Stephen Gallacher in Dunhill hunt despite putting woes

Stephen Gallacher hit a level-par 72 at Kingsbarns
Stephen Gallacher hit a level-par 72 at Kingsbarns
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Former winner Stephen Gallacher thought he’d putted himself out of contention straight away in this season’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

But, helped by a strong finish at Kingsbarns, the Lothians star was pleasantly surprised to have around 100 players behind him after the opening round of the $5 million pro-am event.

“I struggled,” admitted Gallacher after signing for a level-par 72 at the Fife venue. “I was out in three over and back in three under.

“I had 36 putts – I putted terribly. I holed an 18-foot putt on the last, my only single putt all day. Hopefully, I will get a good day on the greens tomorrow and roll them all in.”

Gallacher was heartened for his second-day test at St Andrews, where he claimed a maiden European Tour victory in this event in 2004, by covering the final six holes in three-under. “I thought level par would have left me with quite a bit of catching up to do – but it is not that bad,” he added. “Three over would have been out the picture, so it was nice to get it back to level.”

Also at Kingsbarns, Richie Ramsay recovered from being two-over at the turn to card a 71. “I could have played myself out of the tournament but fortunately I managed to play my way back in,” said the Capital-based player.

Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest, who secured the last invitation for the event, ran up a double-bogey 6 in his 75 at the same course, where Turnhouse-attached Duncan Stewart had an 82 to sit joint-last.

Former Dunbar assistant pro David Drysdale fared best among ten Scots in the field, equalling the day’s best score with a three-under 69 at Carnoustie. It felt even better after he’d taken a 7 at the sixth, the infamous Hogan’s Alley.

“Other than that, it was a solid round of golf,” added Drysdale, who is the second-highest Scot behind Ramsay in this season’s Race to Dubai. “I played the back nine really well in tough conditions and it was nice to finish with a 3 at the last.”

New British Masters champion Paul Dunne had a best-of-the-day 65 at St Andrews, where Rory McIlroy had to settle for a 73.