As a South African he cannot compete in the Ryder Cup, but Hennie Otto may still have played a significant part in deciding Europe’s team in the Italian Open.
Otto carded a stunning 10-under-par 62 at Circolo Golf Torino yesterday, just five minutes before Stephen Gallacher began his second round in the final qualifying event for September’s contest at Gleneagles.
Gallacher needs to finish in the top two on Sunday to replace Graeme McDowell in the last automatic qualifying place and admitted his thoughts on seeing the leaderboard, with Otto 15-under and Bernd Wiesberger 12-under, were not fit for public consumption.
However, the 39-year-old Scot kept his hopes of securing a Ryder Cup debut on home soil alive – he lives just 35 miles from the venue – thanks to a superb 65 which featured an eagle, a double bogey and seven birdies, six of them coming in a back nine of 30.
“When you tee it up 15 and 12 behind you know you’re going to have to be more aggressive and make some birdies so I was delighted to shoot 65 with a double bogey in the end,” said Gallacher, whose seven-under total leaves him eight off the lead and five behind second in ninth.
“It would be nice to follow it up with more of the same. I knew I had to go low at some stage and I’m just delighted to get on a run on the back nine. I don’t think I could say on air what I was thinking when I saw the leaderboard at lunchtime.
“It was a strange feeling. I was looking at the guy who was second to be honest to try and catch him up a bit and a couple more 65s at the weekend and we will see what happens.
“There are two more rounds and a lot can happen in golf.
“Just to be in with a shout on Sunday is all I can ask.”
European captain Paul McGinley, who missed the cut, will have plenty to occupy his time this weekend.
McGinley admitted after the opening round that Turin native Francesco Molinari was “very much on my mind” in terms of Tuesday’s announcement of his three wild cards, but a second round of 72 left the Italian nine shots behind Otto.
Malton’s Simon Dyson scored a second-day score of 68 to leave him 10 behind Otto, but Hull’s Richard Finch found himself heading home after missing the cut by two shots. John Parry had a tournament to forget, finishing 23 shots off leader Otto.