- Italian Open
Gallacher keeps Ryder Cup hopes alive
Stephen Gallacher shot a second-round 65 at the Italian Open to keep his hopes of qualifying for Europe's Ryder Cup team alive.
Hennie Otto of South Africa shot a 10-under 62 to take a three-stroke lead on Friday, with Gallacher eight strokes behind, having hit an opening-round 72.
Gallacher is the only man still capable of moving into the automatic Ryder Cup places in the final qualifying event. He needs a top-two finish to dislodge Graeme McDowell from Europe's team, for what would be a debut in the event at a Gleneagles course just 35 miles from his home.
The Scot found himself 15 shots off the pace before he had even teed off but got off to the perfect start with an eagle on the first, though a double bogey at the sixth saw him reach the turn in 35, facing a battle just to make the cut.
However, six birdies in his inward 30 saw Gallacher finish with a 65 and sit seven under at the halfway stage.
"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.
"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 lunch. 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 you can ask."
Otto, who won this event in 2008, carded nine birdies, one eagle and one bogey to move to 15-under at the Circolo Golf Torino. He was three shots ahead of Austria's Bernd Wiesberger.
"It's always special to shoot a 62 but a 59 never even crossed my mind," said Otto, who was 10 under after 15 holes and could have recorded the first sub-60 round on the European Tour if he birdied the last three.
"I didn't really think about my score until my caddie said if I made par on 17 we would have been on course for a 10-under par round."
However, a bogey on the 17th hole marked the only shot that Otto dropped in two days.
"I really played well, hit some good shots and the greens were running well so you were able to make some putts," he said. "Something about courses in Italy suits my eye and it would be great to win the tournament. Hopefully I can keep it up and keep going over the weekend."
Home favourite Francesco Molinari, who took a share of the lead into Friday with Wiesberger, lies nine off the lead on six under after a 72.
Molinari also still harbours hopes of making Europe's Ryder Cup team, though knows he will likely have to win in Turin to convince captain Paul McGinley to make him one of his three wild card picks.
"It's a step back but there are two more days so let's see what happens at the weekend," Molinari said.