Ryder Cup: Gallacher picked for "calmness under pressure"
European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley admitted it was calmness under pressure which sealed the deal for Stephen Gallacher as a wildcard pick alongside Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
Gallacher finished in third place at the Italian Open, knowing a second place would have got him in the side automatically.
But McGinley thought his final round 65 showed plenty of character.
“His performance last week in Italy under the spotlight was huge,” McGinley said.
“He will look at it as a highlight of his career.”
On Poulter and Westwood McGinley added: “I am a very lucky man for a start, to have such a variety of talent to choose from. There are some real quality players who played very well who are not going to make the team.”
One of those to miss out is former world number one Luke Donald, who was partnered by McGinley in his very first Ryder cup match in 2004.
They also paired up in 2008 and McGinley said: “It was a very difficult conversation for many reasons and relationship with Luke is very close.
“The first shot he ever hit in the Ryder Cup, I was his partner. He is a former world number one and his record in golf stands up to anyone in the game.
“He has been an incredible performer for many years and it was a very difficult call for me to make, but one I had to do in the interests of the team.”
McGinley revealed how he called the top 16 players on the European Tour rankings to inform them of his choices at 8.30pm on Monday night, with many sharing Donald’s disappointment.
Ian Poulter is a bundle of energy. You could feel the energy coming down the phone” It will be Westwood’s ninth Ryder Cup appearance and McGinley said he was very gracious and humble when he received the call, whereas fellow wild card pick Poulter was slightly more enthusiastic.
“Ian Poulter is a bundle of energy,” added McGinley. “You could feel the energy coming down the phone.”
The tournament gets underway on September 26 – just the second time the Ryder Cup has been played in Scotland – and McGinley said that as a Scot himself, he hopes Gallacher relishes the opportunity to play in front of his home fans.
“Stephen had to go last week [in Italy] because he played relatively poorly in America at an important qualification time.
“He needed a big performance last week and on the afternoon on Friday he really showed that he wanted to be a Ryder Cup player.
“Of course there’s a concern for me that he is a rookie, but I am not afraid to pick a rookie if he is good enough and there is no doubt that Stephen Gallacher has proved himself and earned a place.”
For Team Europe, the hard work to retain the trophy now begins, although McGinley said he did allow Gallacher to indulge in a celebratory drink.