Turin (Italy) (AFP) - Stephen Gallacher, requiring a top two finish in the Italian Open to claim the final automatic qualifying Ryder Cup berth, is lying six shots off home favourite and European wild card contender Francesco Molinari after Thursday's first round.
Gallacher, who would overtake Graeme McDowell and make it onto the European team at Glenagles next month, shot a wayward 72 to leave himself an uphill struggle.
Molinari in contrast enjoyed better fortunes on the Circolo Golf Torino course where he began playing aged eight to durther his claims on a wild card with a six under par 66 to share the lead with Austria's Bernd Wiesberger.
European Captain Paul McGinley admitted Molinari is "very much in my mind" for one of the three wild cards he will announce on Tuesday, with the man himself thinking he needs to win on Sunday to make a third consecutive appearance.
"I had a chat with Paul when he got here and I think the good thing is that he knows what I can bring to the team because he has seen me as vice-captain on the last two teams," said Molinari, whose halved match with Tiger Woods at Medinah in 2012 ensured Europe won outright for the seventh time in the last nine contests.
"But it's up to me to prove that I really want it and am playing well enough. I think anything less than a win would not be enough so I have to aim for that."
Gallacher headed straight to the range after a round featuring four birdies and four bogeys, the 39 year old Scot squandering a good start after almost holing his approach to his second hole of the day.
"I'm a bit disappointed because I threw away a couple of shots midway through my round, but it's okay for the first day and I am only one good score away from the top of the leaderboard," said Gallacher, who lives just 35 miles from Gleneagles.
"I know I have to finish first or second, that's not going to change, so I'm not putting any pressure on myself."