Bernard Gallacher today warned nephew Stephen: “The toughest job is still to come in the Ryder Cup.”
Stephen’s dream of playing in the event will come true at Gleneagles later this month after he secured one of captain Paul McGinley’s wildcards along with English duo Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
He’ll become the third Bathgate member to take on the Americans in the biennial bout, following in the spikemarks of both Bernard and Eric Brown.
Bernard played in the event eight times before captaining Europe on three occasions, including a 2005 victory at Oak Hill. He was among the first to offer his nephew hearty congratulations after his selection by McGinley – and told him that he’ll need to refill his tank for the contest on September 26-28.
“I spoke to him and my advice certainly wasn’t just ‘go to Gleneagles and enjoy it’,” the former Wentworth professional told the Edinburgh Evening News. “I actually said to him, ‘the easiest job is getting in the Ryder Cup. The tough job starts now, it is going to be the hardest week of your life’.”
Gallacher will join up with his 11 team-mates on the Monday of the event – the first Ryder Cup to be held in Scotland since the 1973 match at Muirfield – then have three practice days in preparation for the three-day clash.
“He’ll have a lot to do that week,” added Bernard, who played in the match in East Lothian. “In addition to having to practise, there will be a lot of photographs to be taken and he’ll also have a gala dinner and an opening ceremony.
“He’ll be going to bed late then getting up in the dark to go and practise on the match days. I told him, ‘you’re going to have to be at your very best to get points so make sure you’re not switched off by the time the match comes around’.”
Stephen came within a shot of securing automatic qualification after signing off with a 65 to finish third in the Italian Open last Sunday. It was his tenth top-ten finish in the year-long qualifying campaign and McGinley admitted the Lothians star had more than earned his pick.
“I think he forced his way into the team on Sunday,” added Bernard of the younger Gallacher’s closing salvo in Turin. “If he hadn’t played so well in Italy then I think it would have been a tougher decision for Paul. Stephen really had the bit between his teeth last week – he was going for it, that’s for sure.
“He was under the cosh and I saw a determination from Stephen in that last round that I hadn’t seen before.
“It was so significant that a number of players were tweeting (world No.1 Rory McIlroy among them) as he played that last round and that showed how impressive he was. There were a lot of people rooting for him and that was great to see.”
The one disappointment for Stephen as he extends the Gallacher Ryder Cup history will be that one of his biggest supporters, grandad Barney, passed away four years ago.
“My dad took Stephen to a lot of amateur events, as he did for me,” recalled Bernard. “He enjoyed taking Stephen to those tournaments and I think this would have been his proudest moment. In fact, I’d say it is our proudest moment.
“I saw that (daughter) Kirsty had tweeted about it, though at the same time she said how sorry she was that Luke Donald hadn’t made the team. There’s always someone going to be disappointed when it comes to wild cards and it’s a shame about that, to be honest.”
Bernard is also due to be at Gleneagles to do some radio commentary – but he admitted he will now have to make a special request to his broadcast producer.
“I’ll be there for Five Live,” he said.
“I’ll be inside the ropes for them but I’ll probably ask not to go with any of Stephen’s matches as it might distract him. It would be too nerve-wracking for me and it might be a distraction for him and I wouldn’t want that.”