STEPHEN GALLACHER forked out a wasted £20 for extra leg room on a flight to Turkey that had just 14 passengers on it.
But, with £4.6 million up for grabs in the opening event of the European Tour’s Final Series, the Lothians star could afford to laugh about a surreal journey to Belek on the Mediterranean coast.
“I flew across on a Jet2 flight that had only 14 people on it as it was the last one of the season back from Glasgow,” Gallacher told the Evening News as he prepared for the Turkish Airlines Open starting at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal tomorrow.
“I paid £20 for extra leg room yet I could have 30 seats with extra leg room. In fact, I could have had six rows to myself!”
For most of this season, Gallacher has found himself like a plane taxiing on the runaway, having struggled to hit the heights of last year, when he earned a deserved Ryder Cup wild card. But the 40-year-old is heading into the first of four lucrative events that make up the Final Series feeling confident he is ready to see his career take off again.
Lying 60th in the Race to Dubai, Gallacher needs to at least retain that position to guarantee his spot in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and is feeling confident about making a strong finish to the season.
In addition to following up an encouraging finish in the Dunhill Links with a top-ten in Portugal – his first since finishing third behind Rory McIlroy when going for a title hat-trick in Dubai back in February – the Ryder Cup player has also recovered from the virus that forces him to pull out of the British Masters at Woburn in between those performances.
“My last two events have been massive from a confidence point of view,” he insisted. “The Dunhill, in particular, was big because I got myself into contention on what was a tough last day at St Andrews.
“In Portugal, I played great for three days and still shot under par on the day I struggled a bit. That’s the difference. I’m starting to see big differences in my game. I feel as though I’m hitting it longer probably than I ever have. In Portugal, I was hitting it about five per cent further, which is about eight yards more per club.
“I think I’m swinging the club better and also compressing the ball a bit better. I’ve also gone back to my old irons and everything feels good at the moment. I’m actually looking forward to playing again. It’s tough when you are struggling a bit. But that’s no longer the case.
“Another good thing is that I’m coming into these events feeling healthy again. I feel that I’m just over the virus that forced me to withdraw at Woburn after the first round. I feel a lot stronger and fitter.
“I had a good week off last week with the family so feel well rested. We were down at my cousin Jamie’s wedding and now I’m raring to go.”
The family occasion gave Gallacher the chance to catch up with another of his cousins – Kirsty, who, of course, is among the celebrities currently strutting their stuff in Strictly Come Dancing.
“We were all having a giggle as she gave us the lowdown on that,” added Gallacher, who is now aiming to waltz his way up both the Race to Dubai and world rankings but has Rory McIlroy among his rivals this week.
Also in the reduced field are Capital-based Richie Ramsay, making his return after an eye problem, Marc Warren and David Drysdale.