STEPHEN GALLACHER won’t be surprised if man of the moment Jordan Spieth joins him in the St Andrews winners’ club this weekend.
The Grand Slam-chasing American is the title favourite for the 144th Open starting on the Old Course tomorrow.
He’s won The Masters and US Open already this season and warmed up for his next major challenge by landing the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
His sparkling run of form has come after Spieth made Scottish fans sit up and take notice in last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
He joined forces with Patrick Reed to hand out a first-day foursomes defeat to Gallacher and Ian Poulter.
And, though he eventually lost to Graeme McDowell, the young American also played some scintillating golf in the singles.
“Jordan was always a good player, but he’s moved up to a different level now,” said Gallacher of the 21-year-old Texan. “That’s five wins in total he’s had now since we played in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“He’s only been out here five minutes and done everything. He’s such a brilliant talent and is still so young. He’s a lovely guy and he’s the boy to beat at the moment.”
Spieth, pictured below, is trying to take a third step towards an unprecedented calendar Grand Slam on a course he’s only played once before.
That was in one of the practice rounds with his US team-mates ahead of the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.
But Gallacher insisted the world No.2 – he’ll topple Rory McIlroy with a win this week – is more than capable of succeeding where Tiger Woods failed when he saw his Grand Slam bid hit the rails in this event at Muirfield in 2002 after winning the first two majors that year.
“Jordan went to Augusta and finished second on his first visit there then won it this year. He also went to Chambers Bay for the first time last month and won the US Open there, too,” he said.
“I think the way the course is playing might also work in his favour this week as it’s a bit generous than normal. It’s greener, but in amazing condition, too.”
Gallacher arrived at St Andrews sooner than he’d anticipated after missing the cut in the Scottish Open at Gullane.
That hurt on his home patch, but he’s hoping to bounce back on the course where he won the 2004 Dunhill Links – his first European Tour triumph.
“This is my fourth Open here and it is the best venue of the lot,” said the 40-year-old. “It is the home of golf and if you could pick one to win this would be it.
“Any time you come to St Andrews you get a good vibe, but knowing you can win here is definitely a good thing. That was obviously in a different situation, but if you can get into contention you can draw on past performances and experiences on certain golf courses.
“These things help. That’s why I’ve done so well in Dubai in recent years. I go there feeling so positive and it’s the same here.
“It was great for my first European Tour win here. You think about the people who’ve walked across the bridge as winners and it’s magic to be one of them.
“To miss the cut last week by a shot around a course I know well was bad. But I was able to get up here on Sunday and start looking forward to a good week here.
“I honestly feel my game is not far away at all. Sometimes you think this game can be really hard and other times it’s really easy. There’s no panic.
“I’ve gone through spells before when it was hard to score and it makes it more pleasing when you come through it.
“Everyone has dips in form. You try to put your finger on it but it’s not easy. This place is hopefully going to spark some form.”