Back-seat role for Stoddart as Gallacher realises his goal

Iain Stoddart with Stephen Gallacher
Iain Stoddart with Stephen Gallacher
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The man who had no nails left as Stephen Gallacher battled to make into Europe’s Ryder Cup team has been taking a “back seat” this week.

Iain Stoddart, a co-founder of Edinburgh-based Bounce Sports, is Gallacher’s manager – a role he’s filled for the past two-and-half years.

It’s the first time one of his players has qualified for the Ryder Cup and the build up to this week’s event at Gleneagles was as much a learning curve for him as Gallacher.

“There’s certainly been a new level of media attention,” said Stoddart, who worked in marketing for Coca-Cola in Australia before returning to his home city to take up a post with the David Murray-owned Carnegie Sports Marketing.

“If you have the London Evening Standard getting in touch, you know something special is happening. It’s never been on our radar before but, out of the blue, they’re in touch trying to fix up and interview with Stevie.

“There’s also been a lot of interest from the Middle East, which has got to be expected on the back of him having won the Dubai Desert Classic for the last two years.

“The rest of the media stuff is probably what I thought it was going to be, to be honest. I also knew the ticketing side was going to be a big one to sort out due to Stevie being so popular. I was delighted when all the ticketing was sorted out – that was a big weight off our mind.

“Some of the things that we had to ensure in the build up to him coming here was that all his clothing was correct and getting any last-minute alterations to suits etc done. Even down to a detail like what he should be wearing as he got out of his car when he arrived at Gleneagles on Monday, that all had to be sorted. There’s travelling gear, there’s formal great, there’s everything.”

Normally Stoddart, left, sees Gallacher off at the start of a round and is there to see him finish. This week is different, though.

“At 2pm on Monday, we effectively handed him over to the European Tour as they’ve got so many guys working on the event and we’ve been able to take a back seat compared to normal tournaments,” he added.

“He effectively becomes the Tour’s property this week. In Champions League parlance, I suppose it’s like a club handing their ground over to UEFA for the final.

“We’re quite happy with that as that’s where Stevie will have been able to learn from the experience of guys like Lee Westwood. I think it was Westwood who said that the first couple of Ryder Cups almost pass you by and it’s not until you’ve played a few that you are more relaxed and actually see things going on around you.”

Stoddart shared Gallacher’s gamut of emotions as he battled to try and secure his place in Scotland’s first Ryder Cup since the 1973 match at Muirfield.

He fell a shot short of making the team automatically before earning a deserved wildcard from Paul McGinley.

“He’s ready, there’s no doubt about it,” insisted Stoddart as the event’s 40th staging got under way in Perthshire this morning. “That’s so important. Look at how hard he worked to get here. No one could ever say to Stevie, ‘You’ve got here on the back of one good result’. He’s been so consistent that he knows himself that he is ready for this.

“He put a plan in place back in 2012 that was geared towards ensuring that no stone would be left uncovered in his bid to make this team. When we were are sitting at Easter time and he was being asked about the Ryder Cup, he might have said he was only concentrating on his game and not thinking about it but, of course, he was. It would have been impossible for him not to.

“His goal for the last two years has been to make the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. There have been sacrifices. For instance, he’s put in thousands of miles going here, there and everywhere to play. His work ethic has also been incredible.

“I’ll never forget when we got back from Dubai after his win earlier this year. We got back on the Monday yet he was on the range on Tuesday hitting balls under Alan McCloskey’s watchful eye. There was no time for any celebrations. He wanted to keep the momentum going.”

Bounce Sports is also building momentum. Gallacher’s stablemates now include Alastair Forsyth, Craig Lee, David Drysdale and Jamie McLeary.

“We have a style of management that I think suits Stephen,” said Stoddart, who set up the company with Derek Ritchie, a colleague at Carnegie Sports Marketing, with Murray’s blessing. “We never try to get too far ahead of ourselves and simply apply logic to most things we deal with. Him and I also get on great, which I think is very important.

“He had some troubles in the past with some injuries and a couple of other things and all we’ve been trying to do is make sure that everything off the course is addressed so that he can get on with hitting the golf shots.”

As Gallacher struck his opening one here, Stoddart said he expected to feel pretty relaxed. “I’ll probably be up on a balcony somewhere on the course having a cup of tee,” he said.

“He’ll be the one feeling the nerves but he is more than capable of hitting a good one and take it from there.”