Stephen Gallacher faces defining Italian Open

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Scotland's Stephen Gallacher will go into this week's Italian Open needing a top two finish to secure his place on Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Gallacher is currently occupying 11th place in the world ranking list but needs be in a top nine position ahead of next month's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Graeme McDowell is currently in the ninth and final automatic qualification spot but won't be playing this week after the birth of his first child.

Magic ninth place

Although McDowell may drop out of the automatic qualifying places, he will surely be one of Paul McGinley's wildcard picks with victory at the French Open and four other top 10's.

Also, no qualification points are on offer to Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, who occupy the 10th and 12th places on the world list respectively, as they compete in the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship.

In his hands

It means that Gallacher doesn't have to rely on poor performances from fellow players and knows if he can achieve a win in Turin then he is guaranteed a Ryder Cup place. The 39-year old could also afford to finish second, or in a two-way tie for second, and still qualify for McGinley's team.

Gallacher hasn't played the event in Italy for three years and hasn't achieved better than a tenth placed finish but, with a Ryder Cup place at stake, will be hoping to be at the top of the leader board come Sunday evening.

Good form

The Scot showed good form during last week's Czech Masters but, after being in contention for the title heading into the weekend, could only manage a share of seventh.

"The week went pretty well - bit disappointed with today. I didn't really play that well, but top ten if you're not firing is quite good," Gallacher said afterwards.

Wildcard chance

If Gallacher doesn't achieve a top two finish in Italy he can still hold out hope to be one of McGinley's three wildcard picks for those players that don't finish in an automatic position.

Gallacher's uncle, Bernard, competed in the Ryder Cup three-times and played against current American captain Tom Watson during the last time the US won an away match in 1993 at the Belfry

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While Gallacher still has a lot of work to do for a Ryder Cup spot, a man who is certain to feature at Gleneagles next month is Jamie Donaldson. He sealed his place by winning the Czech Masters and earning a debut appearance in the Ryder Cup.

After winning his third European Tour title by two-shots at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague he revealed his delight.

"This is big - it's been an amazing week," Donaldson said.

"It's so difficult to get into the team, the lads are playing so well. You know that you have to play well to secure your place and it did come down to the wire. But that's how it is to get into the team - I played as well as I can play for 18 months, and then a couple of slow events and you rocket down the list, so it's great to come here and play so well and do enough to get into the team."

Those joining Donaldson with a confirmed Ryder Cup place are Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn.

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