Golf

Stephen Gallacher facing uphill task at the Italian Open

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Stephen Gallacher faces a tough task to guarantee an automatic Ryder Cup spot after he could only post a level-par 72 during day one at the Italian Open.

Scotland's Gallacher is attempting to overtake former US Open champion Graeme McDowell who currently occupies the ninth and final automatic position but isn't competing this week.

Work to do

The 39-year old began well with two early birdies at Circolo Golf Torino but a run of bogeys on the back nine means he has a lot of work to do to make his debut at Gleneagles.

It could have been worse for Gallacher had he not made a lengthy birdie putt on the seventh hole which saw him finish on 72, six shots adrift of joint leaders Francesco Molinari and Bernd Wiesberger who both shot rounds of 66.

Although he is six shots off where he'd like to be, Gallacher knows what he needs to do and acknowledges that there is still plenty of golf still to be played over the next three days.

No pressure?

"I have to finish first or second, that's not going to change, so I'm not putting any pressure on myself," Gallacher said.

"Once you get out on the course you just try to birdie every hole. That's the easy part. It's when you finish you think about the Ryder Cup.

"It's okay for the first day and I am only one good score away from the top of the leader board."

He began on the tenth hole and, despite hooking his opening drive into the rough, produced a brilliant recovery shot to make par.

Playing partner Eduardo Molinari then took every second of his five minute time limit on the 11th hole but Gallacher remained composed to come within an inch of making eagle but had to settle for a birdie.

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First bogey

He moved to two-under par with an up and down from the left of the green on the par five 12th but his first bogey of the day came on the par-three 16th after he missed a 10 foot putt after a poor chip.

The Dubai Desert Classic champion produced a good bunker chip to make par on the 17th and an even better bunker chip on the 18th almost saw him make birdie before it caught the edge of the hole and span out.

Gallacher birdied the following hole but it was immediately cancelled out on the second before a 10-foot putt saved par on the following hole.

But then things started to go wrong for Gallacher as he bogeyed the fourth and then the fifth after finding another green side bunker with his tee-shot.

But he finished well with a good par putt on hole six and his fourth birdie of the day on hole seven.

Gallacher will need a good second round to give him a chance of earning himself an automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup.

If a top-two finish isn't achieved, Gallacher will hope to have caught Paul McGinley's eye as he prepares to pick his three wildcard players next week.

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Topics:
Ryder Cup
Golf

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