Stephen Gallacher into top ten in Dunhill Links

Stephen Gallacher. Picture:  Mark Runnacles Getty Images

Stephen Gallacher. Picture: Mark Runnacles Getty Images

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STEPHEN GALLACHER reckoned he’d scored in more ways than one in the opening round of the £3.3 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The 2004 winner was delighted to shake off his stuttering form this season to card a five-under-par 67 at St Andrews and sit in the top ten overall.

He also enjoyed being in the company of football legends Andriy Shevchenko and Alan Hansen on the first day of the pro-am event.

“It was a really good fourball,” admitted Gallacher of having Shevchenko, the former AC Milan and Chelsea striker as his partner, while Hansen joined forces with defending champion Oliver Wilson.

“I’d never met Andriy before, but he’s off scratch so is a good player. I just wish he’d fudged his handicap so that we could pick up a few more shots!”

It’s not the first time that Gallacher has enjoyed the company of a household name in football on the golf course.

“I’ve played with Johan Cruyff three or four times and also Alessandro Del Piero a couple of months ago,” added the Lothians star. “You could say I’m used to being with the football hierarchy.”

He even decided to use a football analogy after seeing his approach at the first spin back into the Swilcan Burn. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that and it was strange,” admitted the Ryder Cup player. “But I said to Shevchenko, ‘that’s losing a goal in the first minute and there are 89 minutes left’.”

It was an attitude that quickly paid dividends with three birdies in the next four holes before further gains against par followed at the 13th, 14th and 18th. “I actually left some shots out there, but that’s as good as I’ve played for a while,” said Gallacher, who recently linked up with a new coach, Mike Walker, after parting ways with Alan McCloskey.

“I’ve struggled a bit since changing coaches as it takes a bit of time to commit to the changes and trust them,” he added. “But, coming back to a place like this that you know really well, you can let it go a bit more when it comes to your swing thoughts. I got away with some leaked drives, but I know when I get it right, it’s going to be good and after this effort I’m now looking forward to Carnoustie.”