Gallacher calm ahead of final push
4:02pm Wednesday 27th August 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Stephen Gallacher believes he has already had the best year of his career as he seeks one more good performance to secure a Ryder Cup debut on home soil.
Gallacher is the only man capable of moving into the automatic qualifying places in the final counting event, with a top-two finish in the Italian Open enough to dislodge former US Open champion Graeme McDowell from the team.
The 39-year-old has won three times on the European Tour, with a successful title defence in the Dubai Desert Classic in February followed by five more top-10 finishes this season.
And Gallacher will draw on his experiences in the desert as he looks to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Bernard, who played in the biennial event eight times and went on to captain the European side on three occasions.
"I can only control what I do with my own game and my own golf ball. I know that I can get into the team by finishing first or second so that is what I am going to try and do," said Gallacher, who lives just 35 miles from Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles.
"As long as I have that target in mind and that is still mathematically possible then that is all I am really going to be focusing on for the moment. I am trying to prepare to win the same way I would any other week.
"There are a few ways to handle the pressure I suppose and I am going with the fact that it's an exciting position to be in and an exciting time. It was the same kind of feeling I had earlier this year in Dubai when I was defending my title and was paired with Rory (McIlroy) and Tiger (Woods) in the first two rounds.
"I just embraced it and enjoyed it. This has been a year-long process to try and make the Ryder Cup team and I am still in there with a chance to qualify by rights and I am actually quite proud of that. I had to have the best year of my career to try and make the team and I have done that so far. I just need one more big week and that is what I am trying to do.
"I just wish the qualification period had started a week earlier because I lost the Johnnie Walker Championship in a play-off at Gleneagles that week and if that had counted I'd probably be in the team.
"But you can't dwell on any of that. The qualification process is a year long and you have to do everything you can in that period of time to try and qualify."
Gallacher will get his bid under way at 8:30am local time on Thursday, with European captain Paul McGinley also in the field at Circolo Golf in Turin after a spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
McGinley has been paired with another Scot, Made in Denmark winner Marc Warren, in the opposite half of the draw from Gallacher, who finished joint seventh in the Czech Masters last week as Jamie Donaldson won to seal his place on the team.
"There are a lot of things on my mind this week," Gallacher added. "The most difficult thing for me this week is trying to focus just on the golf. If I play well and finish in the top two then I am a Ryder Cup player and that is something that I have dreamt about my whole life.
"It's quite funny that everyone's asking if am nervous about the week ahead but the best place for me to be at the moment is on the golf course. That is where I can think about my next shot and my processes and block the other stuff out. It is when you come off the course that you just cannot escape it.
"Everyone wants to ask about the Ryder Cup, or talk to you about it or just wish you all the best which is all great, but it makes it very difficult to get it out of your mind which is what a part of you wants to do.
"But the whole thing is really exciting for me, that is the main feeling I have. To be a Scotsman who lives 35 miles from Gleneagles trying to get into the team brings a lot of hope and expectation and pressure, but most of all it is an exciting week for me."