LOTHIANS star Stephen Gallacher is hoping the Scottish Open doesn’t turn into a putting tournament in the Highlands this weekend.
But, if it does, he reckons the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event will still get a worthy winner on Sunday night.
Gallacher was reflecting on a low-scoring opening day at Castle Stuart, where Englishman John Parry set the pace with an eight-under-par 64.
“You want it a wee bit tougher, if possible, maybe with the wind stronger so it’s not a putting tournament,” said the Bathgate man after carding a 68.
But, despite it appearing that the Inverness course wasn’t a strong enough links test the week before The Open, Gallacher jumped to its defence.
“If it was the same weather at St Andrews today, people would be shooting seven, eight and nine-under,” he added.
“Any links course needs the elements and it was flat calm through the first 13 holes today before the final five became a bit tricky.”
Gearing up for Muirfield, where he’ll be among a ten-strong Scottish contingent, Gallacher enjoyed his day in the company of world No.8 Phil Mickelson.
Two in front of the American after two holes, Gallacher had seen the tables turned on him by Mickelson after their final putts had been holed.
“Phil’s just one of the boys, really,” said Gallacher of playing with one of the game’s superstars. “He gets on with it, chats away and he is one of the top guys in the game.
“You want to be playing with these guys to see if they do anything different. It’s good to watch his strategy and see how he’s affected after hitting a bad shot.”
There didn’t seem to be many of them as Mickelson used an eagle-3 at the 12th – his third – to turn his day around after a scrappy start.
“He played lovely,” said Gallacher of his playing partner’s 66. “He hit a lot of different shots out there and his short game is brilliant – one of the best in the world.
“It was good to watch his shot selection. He’s got a driver, a two wood, a rescue and a 64 degree wedge in the bag, so he’s got one eye on next week and the The Open.
“It’s nice to be playing with someone like him to see if you can learn anything.”
Gallacher attributed missing a few putts inside 10 ft to the gigantic greens being hard to read. “They are all double borrows and you have to try and figure out what the putt is going to do when it’s dying,” he said.