Gallacher needed to win the Italian Open or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Ireland’s Graeme McDowell from the team for Gleneagles. But despite carding a flawless closing 65 at Circolo Golf Torino, the 39-year-old finished in third place on 17 under, just one shot behind Howell — who fired a superb 63 — in second and three behind South African winner Hennie Otto.
After the year-long qualifying battle, Gallacher finished just 1.61 points behind McDowell, who posted a picture of his new-born daughter on Twitter with the message: “Watched the last few holes of the coverage. If Stevie G had passed me, I was keeping it all in perspective!! #blessed”.
Gallacher must hope he has done enough to earn one of McGinley’s three wild cards, which will be announced at Wentworth tomorrow. He lives just 35 miles from Gleneagles and has recorded seven top-10 finishes there in his last 12 appearances.
McGinley hailed Gallacher’s “terrific performance” but also insisted he would assess his options in a “cold way” after the Deutsche Bank Championship finishes in Boston on Monday evening.
“His performance this week will be very strongly in his favour when it comes to making the picks, but there’s a lot of emotion around here at the moment and let’s just put a little bit of cold water on it,” McGinley said.
“He’s got a lot of things in his favour, but other players do as well too and I’ve got to be fair to everybody and do what I feel is best for Europe.”
Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are all relying on a wild card, with the latter pair competing in Boston. Westwood failed to qualify for the second FedEx Cup play-off event.
McDowell watched the drama unfold on tv in Orlando and expressed joy at making the team automatically.
“I’m very proud, proud to have qualified automatically for my fourth Ryder Cup and proud now to be a member of captain McGinley’s team,” said McDowell.
“I’m also excited to be a part of the Gleneagles team as I feel I have experienced everything I can experience that goes with a Ryder Cup.
“I’ve been in a losing team. I’ve been in two winning teams. I’ve hit the first shot of a Ryder Cup (2012) and I’ve hit the last shot to win the 2010 Ryder Cup. I’ve played both sides of the Atlantic.”
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy muscled his way towards a fifth success this season with a blistering 64 on day three of the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston, writes Bernie McGuire.
McIlroy didn’t drop a shot to race to a share of the clubhouse lead with playing partner Chris Kirk at 10-under par with the American shooting the same score in the second of four FedEx Cup Play-Off events.
“But then to shoot a 64 is no surprise as I shot a second round 65 around Ridgewood last week but it’s just that was after a 75.
“So a round like today is still in there and depending now of what Jason (Day) does hopefully I won’t be that far behind.”