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Sunday, 31 August 2014
Hennie Otto  (Getty Images)
Hennie Otto (Getty Images)

Hennie Otto held firm to win the 71° OPEN D'ITALIA Presented by DAMIANI for the second time, but Stephen Gallacher’s Ryder Cup dream was left hanging in the balance despite a brilliant final round.

Otto took command of the event with a second round of 62 and claimed his third European Tour title with a closing 68 in just his second event back after two back operations this summer.

"I was playing well before the injury but it is a surprise to win so soon," said the 38 year old, who also won this event in 2008. "Golf is not perfect and to come back after the operations and win in my second week, I will take that any day.

“I don’t know what it is about Italy – sometimes some golf courses just suit your eye and that was the case again for me this week. It just felt good this week and I was comfortable on this course. 

“The first two rounds were good because my back was no problem, then yesterday after the tenth it started to stiffen up again - that’s why I hit so many weird shots. But I kept my composure and today wasn’t easy because the guys played so well with some of them trying to get The Ryder Cup spots. I really hope Stevie makes it – he deserves it and has proved himself this week.”

Scotland's Gallacher will have to rely on a wild card after coming up agonisingly short in his last-gasp bid to qualify automatically.

Gallacher needed to win or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from Paul McGinley's European Team for Gleneagles.

The 39 year old carded a flawless closing 65 at Circolo Golf Torino to give himself every opportunity, but had to settle for third place, three shots behind South African Otto and a stroke adrift of good friend David Howell, who denied him with a brilliant 63.

Gallacher will hope he has done enough to earn one of McGinley's three wild cards, which will be announced on Tuesday. The World Number 34 lives just 35 miles from Gleneagles and has recorded seven top-ten finishes there in his last 12 appearances.

"It was a tall order but I am proud of myself the way I have played," Gallacher said. "I'm delighted with 17 under, it looks just a little short but there is nothing I can do.

"When it comes down to someone else's opinion...I wanted to qualify myself just to take that away. There are four or five guys that are worthy (of a wild card) so it's just what Paul sees."

Howell, who carded an eagle on the first and seven birdies in nine holes from the seventh, said: "I really hope Stephen gets a pick because he would make a fantastic Ryder Cup player.

"It was a supreme effort and if a captain needs an example of a player in form who can play under pressure he has had it this weekend."

Gallacher began the day six shots off the lead and four adrift of second, but birdied six of the first eight holes to be out in 30, at which point he was alone in second and two shots clear of Howell and Joost Luiten.

However, while Gallacher could only pick up one more shot on the back nine, Howell birdied the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th to edge ahead and ultimately secure his best finish since winning the Dunhill Links Championship in September last year.

After the year-long qualifying battle, Gallacher finished just 1.61 points behind McDowell, who posted a picture of his new-born daughter on Twitter with the message: "Watched the last few holes of the coverage. If Stevie G had passed me, I was keeping it all in perspective!! #blessed".

"At the end of the day I haven't done enough,” added Gallacher. “We all had the chance of the start of the year and there are nine guys in the team at the moment who have qualified. There are three picks to come and I just hope that I have done enough to get one.

"I was still trying to win the tournament as well and it was strange knowing that second could do it, but I gave it my best shot and I hope Paul likes what he sees."

McGinley hailed Gallacher's "terrific performance" but also insisted he would assess his options in a "cold way" after the Deutsche Bank Championship finishes in Boston on Monday evening.

 

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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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