Drinks with Rory McIlroy give Stephen Gallacher a boost for 2019

Stephen Gallacher with his caddy, Jack Gallacher
Stephen Gallacher with his caddy, Jack Gallacher
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Stephen Gallacher is thirsty for success in 2019 after having his “appetite whetted for the new season” over a couple of drinks with Rory McIlroy towards the end of last year.

The 2014 Ryder Cup team-mates were reunited as guests at Oliver Fisher’s wedding at Archerfield Links and their conversation has left Gallacher raring to go in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The 44-year-old signed off last season by making nine cuts in a row and, feeling even better now about his swing after flying to Florida last month to see Sean Foley, is hoping he can add to three European Tour triumphs this year.

“I want to give it another three or four good goes,” said Gallacher as he prepared to get his 23rd season on the circuit underway at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in a field that includes Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, the world No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

“I had a good chat with Rory, Thomas Bjorn and Shane Lowry down at Archerfield for Oli Fisher’s wedding. It was good to catch up with all of them. Outwith tournaments, you don’t get time to let your hair down... and we certainly did that! It is always good to speak to these guys and that has definitely whetted my appetite for the new season.

“The closer it gets the more you want to get back playing. I thought about going down to South Africa last month, but I felt that my game needed some sharpening up. I’ve been down to see Mike Kanski, Phil Kenyon’s No. 2, to do some work on my putting and I’ve also been out seeing Sean Foley.”

Gallacher is among eight Scots teeing up in this week’s $7 million Rolex Series event, which gets underway tomorrow, a day earlier than usual, due to football’s Asian Cup taking place in the UAE at the moment.

“I came out a bit early and I’ve been practising at Jumeirah Golf Estates doing some testing with wedges and clubs with Titleist,” he said.

“I also played a couple of nine holes at the Emirates (scene of his two Desert Classic successes) and it’s always nice going back there. Everything is going to plan and I’m looking forward to getting going.”