Seve spot boosts Stephen Gallacher for Dunhill tilt

Stephen Gallacher. Picture: Richard Heathcote (Getty Images)
Stephen Gallacher. Picture: Richard Heathcote (Getty Images)
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STEPHEN GALLACHER has waved the chequered flag in the ‘Race to Dunbar’ but is revving up for the final few laps in this season’s ‘Race to Dubai’.

The Lothians star enjoyed hosting the second finals for his Foundation last Sunday, when the season’s top performers locked horns in East Lothian and were also treated to a clinic by Gallacher.

“It was an awesome day at Dunbar, helped by the fact it was sunny and warm,” said the Dubai Desert Classic champion. “Just seeing the faces of those taking part makes all the effort everyone puts in with the Foundation worthwhile.

“They were all given a nice belt and a woolly hat – and both went straight on, which is always a good sign with youngsters! I gave a clinic after it, which seemed to go down well, and the tournament itself showed there is definitely talent out there.

“One girl who has played in our flag events from the start qualified for the finals this year and was one of the winners, as was a nine-year-old boy in an under-15 event.”

As Gallacher’s attention switches to the European Tour’s ‘Race to Dubai’, he’s set to head into one of his favourite events – the Dunhill Links – in buoyant mood.

With a year to go to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, he was set to be named amongst four Scots in the Great Britain & Ireland team for next week’s Seve Trophy in Paris.

“It is brilliant and even better that I’m going to be in the same team as Paul Lawrie, Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson,” said the 38-year-old of the tartan tinge to a team being captained by Sam Torrance.

“It’s a rung below the Ryder Cup and a warm up for next year’s match. You know that [European Ryder Cup captain] Paul McGinley is going to be watching and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It is definitely a good thing to get in, though with the Ryder Cup team not being finalised until the beginning of next September you can’t put yourself under too much pressure at the moment.”

Gallacher’s breakthrough win on the European Tour came in the Dunhill Links in 2004, when he beat Graeme McDowell in a play-off.

He finished seventh as the defending champion in the event held at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews and normally gives a good account of himself along with regular partner Sir Martyn Arbib.

“I even managed that last year despite my faux pas on the last day,” he said of mistaking playing the ball of the amateur partnering Danny Willett at the 16th and picking up a two-stroke penalty that cost him close to £70,000 as he finished fifth instead of a place higher.

“The three courses we play are up there with some of the best in the world and though the format is a bit funky compared to what we play week in, week out, this is an event I always look forward to.”

Lying 15th on the money-list, Gallacher is already guaranteed to be playing in the European Tour’s new Final Series that concludes with the Tour Championship in Dubai in mid-November.

His target in the final few weeks of the season is to try and climb from his current position – 63rd – into the top 50 in the world rankings in order to secure invites to the WGC events early next year as well as The Masters.

“When I first started out on Tour, things were starting to wind down a bit at this stage of the season – but not any more,” he said. “There are some big events coming up and my target is to keep playing well until the end of this season then carry that form into January and February.

“This would certainly be a good week to do well and hopefully I can feed off some good memories, not only from winning the Dunhill in the past but also the great support I received from the home galleries when I made the play-off in the recent Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.”

Two-time Open winner Ernie Els is amongst 14 major champions in this week’s field, with a strong South African presence also including Charles Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Retief Goosen and title holder Branden Grace.

Stars from the worlds of film, music and sport, including Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Steve Redgrave, are in the celebrity line-up for an event that offers free admission at all three venues on the first three days.