Stephen Gallacher wants Wentworth to be the springboard for another run at the Ryder Cup.
The Lothians star has had mixed fortunes in the BMW PGA Championship – the European Tour’s flagship event – over the past decade. He finished fourth in 2010 and was fifth 12 months ago but missed the cut on the eight other occasions.
Apart from finishing third in his Dubai Desert Classic title defence in February, it’s been a quiet season so far for Gallacher. But, with one eye on the start of the Ryder Cup qualifying race later in the year, he’s intentionally been lightly raced.
This week’s £5million event in Surrey is his first appearance on European soil since the Turkish Airlines Open in Belek last November. And the 40-year-old is hoping a good performance can set him up for a big run of upcoming events.
He’s off to Royal County Down next week for the Irish Open then has the Nordea Masters in Sweden. It’s the US Open at Chambers Bay after that then, following a week off, the French Open, Scottish Open and The Open on the spin.
“There’s a massive run of events coming up and it will be great to play five links-type courses in Europe in the next month or two,” said the Bathgate man. “You want to hit form now and carry it on to the end of the season for the Ryder Cup qualification race starting.
“I hadn’t been driving it great, but it’s back again and that’s normally my strength and I can hopefully start putting some scores on the board.”
His confidence was boosted by making the cut in The Players’ Championship at Sawgrass a fortnight ago. Now Gallacher is aiming to enjoy another good week at Wentworth rather than adding to that list of early exits.
“You have to be on your game to do well round here,” he said in reply to being asked why his record was such a mixed bag.
“If you are struggling it shows up a lot. If you are driving it well in particular you have a chance of scoring well. If not, you’ll be behind the eight ball.
“I should have finished higher up than I did (tied 38th) at Sawgrass, but the good thing was that I was right on the line to make the cut going into the back nine in the second round and I covered it in three-under. That sort of things show your game is in good shape. It just never quite went for me on the last two days and I played better than my score suggested. When that’s the case, you can take a lot of positives.”
No-one is feeling more positive in golf at the moment than world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who has never looked back since his Wentworth win 12 months ago.
The 26-year-old is back to defend his title on the back of a seven-shot victory in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow on Sunday.
“He’s the best in the world by miles at the moment,” said Gallacher of his Ryder Cup team-mate at Gleneagles last September. “When he drives it as well as he did in America last week he just annihilates everyone. It was an easy seven-shot win for him.
“We’ve got to have every aspect of our games firing when he’s playing like that, but we’ve all beat him in tournaments before and that’s what we will be trying to do here.
“But it’s great to see what he is doing for golf. He’s a great ambassador for our Tour and any time he comes over here is brilliant.”