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Gallacher deserves Gleneagles place - McDowell

ESPN staff
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Graeme McDowell says Stephen Gallacher deserved to qualify for the Ryder Cup and has backed the Scot to earn one of Paul McGinley's three captain's picks.

Gallacher needed a top-two finish at the Italian Open to book his spot in the European team for Gleneagles later this month, but a flawless final round of 65 was not enough as he finished just a single shot behind runner-up David Howell.

The result meant McDowell, whose wife Kirsten gave birth to their first child Vale Esme last Monday, clung on to the final spot on McGinley's team.

Ryder Cup deadline day

Will Ian Poulter's formidable Ryder Cup record be enough? © PA Photos
  • European captain Paul McGinley says his three Gleneagles picks will come from a group of five players: Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Stephen Gallacher, Luke Donald and Francesco Molinari. But who should the Irishman take? ESPN's Alex Perry gives his verdict on the hopeful quintet.
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Writing in his column for BBC Sport, he said: "My mind has been 99% on the new mum, baby and nappies. Emotionally it's still all kind of sinking in. There's a switch inside me that's flicked and I know things have changed forever.

"There was, though, that 1% which led me to flicking on the European Tour app every now and again to see how Stephen Gallacher was getting on in the Italian Open.

"I wished Stevie well last week. You certainly would not have begrudged him a place in the team if he'd got the top-two finish he needed to go past me in the standings. He certainly made a brilliant effort to grab the last automatic qualifying place and only came up a fraction short.

"Given the way he's played throughout this year, and because of the type of player that he is, he would have thoroughly deserved it, especially with him being a Scot and the Ryder Cup being at Gleneagles.

"To me Stephen is somebody who would bring a lot to a Ryder Cup team. He's a big hitter, he's upbeat and a positive personality. As far as rookies go, he wouldn't be a problem."

Following the conclusion of the Italian Open, McGinley revealed that his three picks would come from a group of five that includes Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, as well as two-time winner Francesco Molinari and Gallacher.

"Paul has three picks, but as we have been joking all year that the team will be made up of nine automatics, two picks and, of course, Ian Poulter, for his past Ryder Cup heroics," McDowell said, before backing Gallacher to pip Westwood and Donald to a spot.

"If I was captain, I'd be thinking long and hard about putting him on the team," he added. "I think he would bring a lot to the dynamic of the side.

"When it comes to the selections on Tuesday it's a case of whether Paul wants to go with experience. It is a big ask to pick someone to play his first Ryder Cup, so it will be very interesting."

McDowell added: "From my point of view, I just can't wait for Gleneagles. It's going to be a very, very special week. I've just had one of those, of course, but in golfing terms it doesn't get much better than playing for your continent and trying to defend that precious trophy."

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