Stephen Gallacher in Ryder Cup, but can’t beat dad

Gary Nicol puts Stephen Gallacher through his paces in 2011. Picture: Dan Phillips
Gary Nicol puts Stephen Gallacher through his paces in 2011. Picture: Dan Phillips
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HE’S driven his way into an elite team aiming to keep one of sport’s most coveted prizes in European hands – but Stephen Gallacher can’t beat his dad around the greens of Bathgate.

The golf star is celebrating today after being named in the Ryder Cup squad plotting to defend its title at Gleneagles later this month.

But as the 39-year-old follows in the footsteps of his three-time team captain uncle Bernard Gallacher, his dad Jimmy will offer a gentle reminder that will keep his son’s feet on the ground.

Golf coach and Stephen’s friend Gary Nicol said: “The one thing he never achieved that his dad did was to become the Bathgate Golf Club champion, so Jimmy is going to be reminding him of that.”

The Dechmont-born golfer will have his eyes on the biggest prize of his career when he joins captain Paul McGinley’s team – which also features the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Stephen was named as one of McGinley’s three wildcard picks following a storming finish at the Italian Open on Sunday, when he came within touching distance of earning an automatic berth.

Mr Nicol, who’s based at Archerfield Links, said the achievement was the culmination of years of hard graft.

He said: “It’s an amazing achievement, but not a great surprise to me. All his peers will tell you the same thing – it’s only a surprise that it’s taken this long.

“We’ve had a lot of fun over the years, he’s just good fun to be around. You never see Stephen get down or depressed – he’s very persistent as a person and if you’ve got him as a friend you’ve got a friend for life.”

The spot in the 12-strong team caps a meteoric rise to fame for the world number 33, who at the start of last year was ranked outside the top 100.

He returned to the winner’s circle in February 2013 following a nine-year barren spell at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – before sharing his joy with fellow regulars at the Platform 3 pub in Linlithgow.

Co-owner Iain Hewitt said: “When he won in Dubai he popped in with the trophy, and because he’s become really friendly with a lot of the guys, he just left it so anyone could get a picture taken.”

But he’s not expecting his regular to pop round with the Ryder Cup if Europe claims a third successive victory.

“I’m assuming the security for the Ryder Cup will be slightly stricter and we won’t get the same privilege,” said Mr Hewitt, who has hung up a banner in the pub hailing his most famous customer.

“He’s just a really nice guy and really down to earth. Everybody’s really proud of him.

“I think he likes to have a bit of time away from golf and he’s always happy to chat to guys who want to say hello to him – he’s just a normal guy.”

Stephen, whose cousin is TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, turned professional in 1995 after playing in a victorious Walker Cup (a Ryder Cup-style contest for amateurs) team and in 2004 won his first tour title at the Dunhill Links Championship.