Golf: Gallacher on a two-year route to Gleneagles

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STEPHEN GALLACHER is ready to map out a two-year plan to get into the Ryder Cup on home soil at Gleneagles.

The Lothians star admits he is desperate to follow in the spikemarks of Paul Lawrie, who celebrated securing his second appearance against the Americans by storming to a four-shot win in the Johnnie Walker Championship at the Perthshire venue.

“Paul has always been a good player, but he’s found something over the last couple of years and played great,” said Gallacher of one of his best friends on the European Tour.

“That’s been great to see and there’s no doubt that it spurs you on. He’s given the rest of the Scots a boost and we’ll all be trying to emulate him now.

“The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles has always been my big goal and I’ll be sitting down and trying to make a two-year plan to get in that team.”

Gallacher was speaking after finishing in a tie for sixth behind Lawrie at Gleneagles – his fifth top-ten finish in the event.

For the second year running, he gave the rest of the field a head start after opening with a three-over 75.

But the Bathgate ace stormed up the leaderboard with middle rounds of 67 and 65 to find himself going out in the second-last group in the final circuit.

At one point in that, he was Lawrie’s closest challenger, but then had his momentum halted as his putter turned cold.

“Paul was always was going to be hard to beat from the position he was in,” declared Gallacher after eventually signing off with a 71 for a ten-under total.

“I was going to have to shoot 64 or 65 to have a chance but, unfortunately, my birdie putt on the last was the only one I holed all day.

“I putted brilliantly on Friday and Saturday, having 22 and 26 putts in those rounds. But today it was 34 or 35 – that’s the difference.”

He still picked up a cheque for just under £40,000 to jump up four spots to 35th in the Race to Dubai.

“There are definitely some positives to take from this week,” admitted Gallacher. “This has set me up for a strong finish to the season.

“It’s great that I’ve managed to move up a few spots in the Race to Dubai.

“My aim is to finish in the top 30 in that, as it would get me into next year’s Open at Muirfield, so this has moved me in the right way.”

Gallacher was a member of the Tartan Army that thrilled a last-day crowd of just under 18,000 in Perthshire, where the attendance for the week was just under 47,500.

“There were people everywhere out there, which was great to see,” noted Gallacher, who finished alongside two compatriots in Colin Montgomerie and Richie Ramsay.

“I was just saying to my caddie as we came up the last hole that the difference there following the changes they’ve made to the hole was unbelieveable.

“It’s a real amphitheatre now around the green and I think a lot of the people who’ve come here this week have wanted to see the changes that have been made for the Ryder Cup.”

Lloyd Saltman, the only other Lothians player to be involved in the final two rounds, also signed off with a 71 to finish in a tie for 40th on one-under.

“After being two-over after 12 it was nice to finish under-par, both for the round and the tournament,” admitted the Archerfield ace, who picked up a cheque for close to £9,000.

“I’ve fought back well all week, to be honest, and that shows my mental attitude has been good.

“It’s been an okay week, overall, though after being five-over after the first round I can’t really complain too much.”

After a recent hectic spell, Saltman is taking a week off, then has two big events on the Challenge Tour – in Russia and Kazakhstan.

“There are a lot of positives to take from this week heading into my next couple of tournaments,” he added.

“My putter, for instance, has been hot and that’s been pleasing as I haven’t putted well for most of the year.

“At the same time, though, I still think there are things I need to work on and I’ll certainly be doing that with my coach, Colin Brooks.”