Stephen Gallacher suffers four-putt setback at Scottish Open

Stephen Gallacher's putting let him down at Royal Aberdeen. Photograph: SNS

Stephen Gallacher's putting let him down at Royal Aberdeen. Photograph: SNS

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STEPHEN GALLACHER reflected on a sore four-putt in the first round of the Scottish Open and insisted: “I tried on every one of them!”

In one of the glamour groups at Royal Aberdeen, the Lothians star was outscoring both Justin Rose and Lee Westwood until he came a cropper on the slick greens.

From just 25 feet away from the hole, he took four to get down as a double-bogey 6 went down on his card at the seventh.

He then dropped three shots in a row from the ninth before repairing some of the damage with an eagle-2 at the 15th.

“I had a four putt and two three putts which didn’t help the cause,” reported the Scottish No 1 afterwards.

“The four putt was from about 25 feet – and I tried on every one of them. I holed a three-footer for a four putt.”

Gallacher’s effort left him trailing pacesetter Rory McIlroy by eight shots as the two-times major winner lit up the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event by setting a new course record.

“I am not getting the scores that my game is meriting at the moment,” added Gallacher, who is keen to do well in the Granite City to boost his Ryder Cup challenge.

“I just need to play my way through it. It is one of those courses that you can get out of position because of the wind.

“You have got to be on top of your game because if you are a little bit off you can shoot a big number.”

McIlroy’s opening effort included a 425-yard drive that found the green at the 13th.

Though not quite as long – the 15th is 374 yards – Gallacher was just as pleased with the big hit that set up his eagle.

“I hit a driver to about two foot – and it was bang on line,” said the double Dubai Desert Classic champion. “It is a risk and reward hole, you can either hit a 6 or 7-iron or have a go at it with the driver. I was hitting the ball well, so it was easy enough to take the driver on.”

David Drysdale cut his links teeth at Dunbar, so he should feel at home on a course like this.

Late in the day, he proved that by coming in with a four-under-par 67 to sit as leading Scot alongside Marc Warren.

“It was a slow start and I got away with a couple of poor shots but from nine on my golf was good,” said Drysdale.

He followed back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th by chipping in at the 17th for another one.

At the last, he left a 15-foot birdie putt agonisingly short but, after his recent form, the Cockburnspath man had no complaints about his day’s work.

“My game has been poor for the last six weeks,” he said. “From making cuts consistently, I’ve missed four out of the last five.

“I don’t know if it’s a lack of focus but today was much better, even though it was a grind at times.”

Drysdale, who has old caddie Brian Byrne back on his bag, laughed when he was asked if many people had been out watching him.

“No-one watches me other than the 20 friends that were out there,” he replied, smiling.

Bonnyrigg-based Jamie McLeary bogeyed the last two holes for a 74. “Three-over is not good enough out here,” he declared.

Having qualified for next week’s Open, he was hoping for a good week here before heading down to Hoylake.

“I fancied myself to shoot three or four-under today, no problems,” he added. “But I failed to get up and down once in seven attempts.”

Amateur ace Zander Culverwell also finished on a sour note – a double-bogey 6 at the last in his case – as he signed for a 76.

“I hit enough fairways and greens but most times I just wasn’t close enough to the hole,” said the Dunbar star.

“I enjoyed it, though, and I also felt comfortable out there. I was surprised that I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be on the first tee.”

McIlroy’s sizzling effort – a new course record – earned him a one-shot lead over Swede Kristof Broberg and Ricardo Gonzalez from Argentina.