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Blow for Stephen Gallacher's Ryder Cup preparations as he looks set for early Celtic Manor exit

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Stephen Gallacher must finish first or second at the Open d'Italia to gain automatic selection for next month's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Stephen Gallacher must finish first or second at the Open d'Italia to gain automatic selection for next month's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Getty Images

Stephen Gallacher must finish first or second at the Open d'Italia to gain automatic selection for next month's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Stephen Gallacher's Ryder Cup preparations looked set to come to an early end as he headed for a missed cut in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

Gallacher has not played competitively since coming agonisingly close to sealing an automatic place on the European team for Gleneagles before being named as one of captain Paul McGinley's three wild cards.

The rust showed as Gallacher struggled to an opening 78 on Thursday with seven bogeys and no birdies, and another bogey on his second hole on Friday left the 39-year-old eight over par, seven shots outside the projected cut and 133rd in the 142-strong field.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Holland's Joost Luiten had birdied his opening hole to move two shots clear of the field on seven under par, the 28-year-old having carded an opening 65.

Luiten, who was also considered as a Ryder Cup wild card before McGinley opted for Gallacher, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, finished fifth in the defence of his KLM Open title at Kennemer Golf Club last week.

Westwood was among the later starters after a first round of 73, while team-mate Thomas Bjorn - playing alongside Gallacher - had improved to one under with birdies on the 11th and 14th and a bogey on the 12th.

Luiten picked up another birdie on the short par-four 15th and at eight under par was three ahead of former champion Thongchai Jaidee, Scotland's Andrew McArthur and Nicolas Colsaerts.

Jaidee had carded four birdies and a double bogey in eight holes, while McArthur had opened his round with three straight pars and Colsaerts was among the afternoon starters.

Gallacher had finally recorded his first birdie of the week on the par-five 18th - a hole he three-putted for par on Thursday - to get back to seven over.

Luiten's lead was briefly four shots clear when he birdied the par-five 18th, but a combination of his first bogey of the day on the second and a birdie from Jaidee on the fourth cut the gap to two.

The good news for Gallacher was that the projected cut had changed to one over par in the wet conditions, but the bad news was that he remained seven over with six holes remaining.

PA Media