Lothians champ will be following Gallacher’s steps

Bernard Gallacher won at Musselburgh in 1967

Bernard Gallacher won at Musselburgh in 1967

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The winner of next week’s Lothians Championship will literally be following in Bernard Gallacher’s footsteps.

The match-play phase is being held at Musselburgh, where Gallacher claimed the crown in 1967.

Bigger wins, both individually and in team events, came after that for the Bathgate man in the professional ranks.

But he still fondly remembers his victory, beating another Lothians legend in George Macgregor from Glencorse by one hole in the final, at Monktonhall.

“That was a big moment for me,” said the three-times Ryder Cup captain, who was 18 at the time and joined the paid ranks later the same year.

“I obviously knew George quite well, of course, and I knew it was a match that was likely to go to the wire. I remember making a 2 at the short 16th and I think that put me one up.

“It was a good battle between the pair of us and to win the Lothians Championship at that stage in my career was an important milestone in my career.

“Back then, for a young guy from Bathgate, it was probably the next best thing to winning the Scottish Championship.

“Monktonhall was regarded as a long course at the time and it was a good test so to win it there, beating George in the process, was very satisfying.”

The triumph came just under two years after Gallacher had also lifted the Spiers Trophy for winning the Lothian Boys’ Championship at the Braids.

“Based on the fact that I won both the Lothians Boys and the Lothians Championship, I thought I had a chance of going on to do something in golf,” he added.

Based on 22 professional wins, including ten on the European Tour, he wasn’t to be disappointed

Nearly 50 years on, another starry-eyed youngster from Bathgate is aiming to add his name to the magnificent ‘Evening News Trophy’.

The first task for Ross Callan, beaten finalist in the Scottish Boys at Dunbar earlier this month, is to come through this weekend’s 36-hole qualifying at Broomieknowe and Glencorse.

Also among the hopefuls in that will be Uphall’s Colin Swanston, who won the LGA’s flagship event by beating David Inglis (Glencorse) in the 1999 final at Monktonhall.

It would be some feat if he could bridge a 16-year gap to claim the crown again, especially with more recent years like 2010 champion Allyn Dick and Duddingston’s David Miller, the winner at Longniddry 12 months ago, likely to be among the 32 qualifiers.

Dick, incidentally, is now playing out of Kingsfield instead of Kingsknowe, giving the Linlithgow venue two potential title contenders along with Jordyn Rhind.