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Sunday, 31 August 2014
Stephen Gallacher  (Getty Images)
Stephen Gallacher (Getty Images)
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher was on course to seal a Ryder Cup debut in stunning fashion in the final round as the Scot threw down the challenge to Hennie Otto in the 71° OPEN D'ITALIA Presented by DAMIANI on Sunday.

Gallacher needed to win in Turin or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the ninth and last automatic qualifying place in the European Team for Gleneagles.

The 39 year old trailed leader Otto by six shots and second-placed Richie Ramsay by four at the start of the day, but raced to the turn in 30 at Circolo Golf Torino to massively improve his chances.

At 16 under par, Gallacher was in outright second and two behind Otto, who had played his first seven holes in two under par. Perhaps more significantly, Gallacher was two ahead of Joost Luiten and David Howell in joint third.

Gallacher made the ideal start, holing from 15 feet for birdie on the first and 25 feet on the second, and when he also picked up shots on the fourth and fifth from close range, he was into joint second.

The World Number 34, who lives just 35 miles from Gleneagles, was playing superbly and also took advantage of a slice of luck on the seventh, where the tee had been brought forward to allow players to try to drive the green.

Despite pulling his drive into the trees, Gallacher found a good lie and a clear path to the green and pitched to two feet to set up a birdie which was swiftly followed by his sixth of the day on the eighth after almost holing his tee shot.

Gallacher had to settle for pars on the tenth and 11th and soon had company in second place as Howell, who had gone to the turn in 31, picked up shots on the 11th and 12th.
 
A third birdie in succession, and sixth in seven holes, from Howell briefly lifted the Englishman into second place on his own on 17 under.

But Gallacher, playing in the group behind, responded immediately with a two-putt birdie on the 12th to get back on level terms as a thrilling finale looked on the cards.
 
Howell, who played in the Ryder Cup as Europe claimed record victories in 2004 and 2006, edged back into outright second with a long-range birdie on the 15th, a birdie Gallacher was unable to match.

That left Otto in the lead on 19 under, Howell second on 18 under and Gallacher third on 17 under - all with European Captain Paul McGinley looking on intently.
 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1OTTO, HennieRSA18-20
2HOWELL, DavidENG18-18
3GALLACHER, StephenSCO18-17
T4LUITEN, JoostNED18-16
T4RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-16
6WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-13

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