The man who caddied for Stephen Gallacher the last time he faced the Americans knew the Bathgate star had the “heart” to become a Ryder Cup player.
Eric Mackay was on Gallacher’s bag during a glittering amateur career that culminated with him playing in a winning Walker Cup team in Wales in 1995.
“There was no doubt in my mind that he had all the attributes to go to the top in the game – he had it in his heart,” recalled Mackay.
The day after being picked by Paul McGinley for this week’s match at Gleneagles, Gallacher returned to his roots by paying a visit to Bathgate Golf Club.
Among those there that day to offer their congratulations was Mackay, who still cherishes their time together out on the fairways.
“I caddied for him all his amateur days,” he recalled. “His dad came and asked me one day – it was good timing as I’d just been made redundant from my own job.
“One of the events I remember vividly is, of course, the Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl. It was the match where Tiger Woods had a bug but, to his credit, he still played.
“The weather was horrible in Wales. It rained for two days solid, so hopefully it will be better at Gleneagles.”
Mackay recounted a story about how Gallacher’s favourite club as a rising star was a 5-iron, the one he hit most under the watchful eye of coach Bob Torrance down at Largs.
“I remember one event where we came to a short hole and Stephen asked me, ‘How far have we got?’ and I replied ‘150 yards’,” said Mackay.
“‘Give me a 5-iron,’ he said. I said. ‘No’. I pulled a 7 and gave him it and said it was a normal one.
“He hit it and Bob came over and said in his gruff voice, ‘You called the right shot and see when you come to the par-3 that’s 190 yards, give him a 3-iron as he’ll want to hit a 5-iron there as well!’
“We had our tough times and eventually split up, but that was down to youthfulness and he’s learned so much since then.”
Mackay likes Damian Moore, the man who now caddies for Gallacher. “Damian is fair caddie,” he said. “There’s quite a few I wouldn’t have caddying for me, but he’s one of the good guys.
“The relationship between player and caddie is even more important now because finally the caddies are getting recognition.
“Even Howard Clark [the former Ryder Cup player who now works for Sky Sports as an on-course commentator] recognises it’s a team now.”
Like so many others, Mackay will look on with pride when Gallacher follows in the spikemarks of two fellow Bathgate members, his uncle Bernard and Eric Brown, by playing in the Ryder Cup.
“He’s always wanted it badly,” concluded Mackay. “He’s worked hard to get where he is and he fully deserves all the recognition.”