BLOG: Why Stephen Gallacher deserved his Ryder Cup pickSeptember, 2014
Overlooking Gallacher after a fine run of form would have sent out a terrible message, writes James Savage
Stephen Gallacher has had a fantastic year and has been rewarded with one of Paul McGinley’s picks for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
The 39-year-old Scot ended 2013 in 66th place in the Official World Golf Ranking and has risen to 33rd thanks to a string of solid results since the turn of the year.
An eighth place at the Abu Dhabi HSBC in January was soon followed by a successful defence of his Dubai Desert Classic crown.
Top 10s at the WGC-Cadilac, BMW PGA at Wentworth, Nordea Masters, Scottish Open, Czech Masters and Italian Open were still not quite enough to force that final automatic qualification spot.
In the end he missed out by one-shot thanks to David Howell’s final round 63 in Turin.
The ninth place went to Graeme McDowell, who despite not making too many headlines on the golf course, has actually had an even better 12 months than Gallacher.
In 19 events Gallacher earned €1.4m on European Tour (including co-sanctioned) events.
McDowell earned €1.2m in 10 events but also racked up a string of top 10s on the PGA Tour.
The 2010 US Open champion was ranked 14th at the end of 2013 and is now 16th.
This highlights what an extremely difficult task it was for Gallacher to force his way into the top nine – with McDowell being the only player he could overtake going into the final qualifying event.
And the fact Gallacher missed out by one-shot, shows what a decent effort it was. For this not to be rewarded by McGinley would have sent out a terrible message.
If both Donald and Westwood had forced Gallacher out it would have been down to reputation not form. Let’s not forget, had Kevin Stadler not messed up on the final green at the French Open which allowed McDowell to “steal” victory – Gallacher may not have needed a pick.
You could make a case for either, but difficult for both.
The English pair were ranked 17th and 25th respectively at the end of 2013. They are currently 30th and 38th.
A player who has risen 33 places should not be kept out by two (or three including Ian Poulter 16th to 36th) who have been moving in the opposite direction.
The qualification system has been changed over the years to try and allow the US-based players to qualify automatically.
It’s not the system which let down those who didn’t make it – see McIlroy, Rose, Kaymer and Stenson – it was their performances on the golf course which weren’t good enough.
Tom Watson will name his three wildcard picks at midnight BST on Tuesday, September 2.