The race for the automatic places in Paul McGinley’s European team for The 2014 Ryder Cup will reach an exciting conclusion this week at the 71° OPEN D'ITALIA Presented by DAMIANI when Stephen Gallacher attempts to make one final push into the reckoning for Gleneagles.
The 39 year old, nephew of three-time Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher, currently sits in 11th place in the World Ranking List and a win or a runner-up finish at Circolo Golf Torino - La Mandria this week would be enough to secure his place at Gleneagles.
The three-time European Tour winner enters the final week of the race for automatic spots on the back of a strong performance at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, where he was in contention for the title heading into the weekend but eventually finished in a share of seventh place as Welshman Jamie Donaldson sealed his own place in the team with a third European Tour victory.
Gallacher is still in the hunt though and he will be hoping to bring his best form to an event which he has not played since 2010, his best result at the event coming back in 2002 courtesy of a tied tenth finish.
It is also the first time Gallacher will play on the Turin course, which made a hugely successful debut on The Race to Dubai last year as Julien Quesne claimed a one-shot victory to double his European Tour title tally after a thrilling finale.
The Frenchman returns as defending champion having already claimed two top ten finishes in the 2014 season and is searching to win in his third successive year.
Meanwhile, Italy’s world stars will all converge on the north west of their home country in the hope of becoming the first home winner of the tournament since Francesco Molinari claimed his maiden European Tour title in 2006.
The older of Italian golf’s most famous brothers, Edoardo, will also be present as he begins to return to the kind of form which earned him a place in Colin Montgomerie’s winning Ryder Cup team in 2010.
The two-time European Tour winner has already this year claimed a top ten at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a runner-up finish at the Irish Open and a tied seventh finish at The Open Championship so he will be among the favourites to join his brother on the winners’ list in this historic event.
Four time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero will also return to his national event in search of a first victory since his famous triumph at the BMW PGA Championship last year.
The 21 year old has yet to register a victory this year, having won in all of the last four seasons, and while he has been in consistent form this year, missing just three cuts in 16 appearances, he will be keen to better his best finish of the season, a share for fourth spot at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Marco Crespi, meanwhile, will return to home soil for the first time since entering The European Tour’s winners’ enclave earlier this year at the NH Collection Open, when the 35 year old completed an admirable climb from the Alps Tour via the Challenge Tour to the highest rung of European golf.
Alongside Francesco Molinari, there are six more former champions returning this week, including three Swedes - Fredrik Andersson Hed, Mathias Grönberg and Patrik Sjöland.
Two Major winner, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke and Irishman Padraig Harrington, are also in the field as is former European Tour Number One Robert Karlsson.