Rain interrupts Stephen Gallacher’s Masters preparations

Stephen Gallacher, right, and caddie Damian Moore (Getty)

Stephen Gallacher, right, and caddie Damian Moore (Getty)

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Stephen Gallacher felt as though he was back home yesterday – as bad weather interrupted his preparations for this week’s Masters.

Thunder and lightning in Augusta led to the first official practice day turning into a massive disappointment for spectators.

Two hours after the gates opened, they were shut and remained that way for the rest of the day as heavy rain set in.

“It was like a day back home before I left and cold as well,” Gallacher told the Evening News as he sheltered under the clubhouse canopy.

“I played in 84 degrees on Saturday, so I’ve had everything weather-wise since I got here.”

The manicured fairways were starting to flood as he spoke and more rain is forecast before Thursday’s first round.

But, with better conditions expected from then onwards, Gallacher is confident the course will be in its full splendour for his debut in the season’s opening major.

“I think this will make the greens more accessible on Thursday,” he acknowledged. “But they’ll get the sub-air system working and come Sunday you won’t even know it has rained.”

The 39-year-old played with 1988 winner Sandy Lyle in his opening practice round on Saturday. He then set out on his own on Sunday before being joined by Billy Horschel, winner of the New Orleans Classic on the PGA Tour last season.

Today Gallacher was scheduled to play with two-times Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal.

“Sandy was brilliant,” he said of playing with the only other Scot in the elite field. “He helped me a lot, especially round about the greens. He also knows where all the pins are likely to be.

“It’s outrageous how good it is – it’s a great track!”

Asked what in particular had surprised him, he added: “The slopes are unbelievable out there – I just can’t believe how steep some of them are. Theyare big wide fairways but you need to come in from a certain side otherwise it can be difficult.”

Gallacher arrived here on Friday along with his wife, Helen, and their two kids, Jack and Ellie.

“They are all enjoying it as much as me,” he revealed. “We took a video of our first drive up Magnolia Lane and it was brilliant. It’s been everything I expected after years of watching this event on TV – and more probably.

“I’ve got the touristy stuff out of the way now, though, and it’s all about being ready for Thursday.

“I’m going to play 18 holes with Jose Maria Olazabal today hopefully then the Par-3 event tomorrow.

“I feel as though I’m hitting it well. It’s just a case of going out there on Thursday and doing it.”

In comparison to Gallacher, Lyle is an old hand when it comes to playing in this event.

And, having bagged seven birdies in a practice round, the 56-year-old is certainly heading into the event in buoyant mood.

“Sandy is hitting the ball well,” acknowledged Gallacher. “He always plays well here. He knows where to go, has good memories from here and all those factors are important.”

The bad weather meant Gallacher spent more time than he’d expected yesterday in the house he’s rented for the week in Augusta.

But he returned to the course in the middle of the afternoon to do a live TV interview with his cousin, Kirsty, for Sky Sports News.

“That was novel,” he admitted. “I’ve done a couple of interviews with her on the phone but it was a first to do one live.”

Meanwhile, American Jimmy Walker has thrown his weight behind the Scottish Open being staged at The Renaissance in East Lothian.

It is among the courses being considered for the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event and Walker is a fan of the Tom Doak-designed layout.

“I played The Renaissance a couple of times last year and it’s a cool spot,” said Walker, who was invited there by Paul Sarvadi, one of the owners and also co-founder of Insperity Inc, the FedEx Cup leader’s hat sponsor.

The Fed Ex Cup leader added: “It was a tough track with tricky greens and I think they could hold the Scottish Open there.”