David Howell helped deny his good friend Stephen Gallacher an automatic Ryder Cup place, but believes it would be a “travesty” if the Scot is not handed a wild card by Europe’s captain Paul McGinley.
Gallacher needed to win the Italian Open or finish joint-second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the team for Gleneagles. But, despite carding a flawless closing 65, 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 on Tuesday. “It was a tall order but I am proud of the way I have played,” he said. “I’m delighted with 17 under, it’s just a little short but there is nothing I can do.
“When it comes down to someone else’s opinion... I wanted to qualify myself just to take that away. There are four or five guys that are worthy [of a wild card] so it’s just what Paul sees.
“At the end of the day I haven’t done enough. We all had the chance of the start of the year and there are nine guys in the team at the moment who have qualified. There are three picks to come and I just hope that I have done enough to get one.
“I was still trying to win the tournament as well and it was strange knowing that second could do it, but I gave it my best shot and I hope Paul likes what he sees.”
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. I like to assess things in a cold way.
“For a rank-and-file guy from the European Tour, who doesn’t play in America and misses out on a lot of the world ranking points as a result, to perform as well as he does is all credit to him.”
Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are relying on wild cards, with the latter pair competing in Boston. Westwood failed to qualify for the second FedEx Cup play-off event.
Howell, who helped Europe compile record nine-point wins in 2004 and 2006, said: “I said to my caddie on the 10th, ‘It’s my job to break his [Gallacher’s] heart and he’s a good mate...’ It would be a travesty, a local boy playing so well, not to get into the side.”