European Tour

Gallacher's Cup dream alive

Stephen Gallacher (AP Photo)
Stephen Gallacher (AP Photo)

Dubai - Stephen Gallacher's dream of playing in the Ryder Cup in his native Scotland in September is now firmly in the realms of the possible following his win in the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

The first man to successfully defend the title in its 25 year history, the 39-year-old Scot will jump 30 places in the world rankings up to 37th.

That opens all sorts of doors for him, most notably ensuring that he plays in all four of this year's majors, including a first outing at Augusta National for the Masters in April.

It also qualifies Gallacher for the WGC Accenture Match-Play Championship in Arizona, starting on March 19.

Those are the tournaments that generate the most points and that is what he needs if he is to break into the nine automatic qualifying slots for the European team. Otherwise he would have to depend on being one of captain Paul McGinley's three wildcard picks.

Gallacher, who grew up 37 miles (45 kilometres) from Gleneagles where the Ryder Cup will be staged from September 26-28, said that playing in the biennial team showdown with the United States had been a lifelong dream.

"I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself but certainly with an uncle (Bernard) who played in it eight times, captained it three and vice-captained it two, it's pretty much all I grew up watching.

"And then, when it's 37 miles from the house, in my generation, it's never going to be in Scotland again, so it's always been a long-term goal of mine to play in a Ryder Cup.

"It just so happens that the best spell I'm having is the one that's in Scotland. But it's seven months to go and a lot of golf to be played."

Early in his career, Gallacher was touted as being a potential top 10 player and one who could take over the mantle left by Colin Montgomerie.

But turning his talent and potential into results has proved elusive and until he won the Desert Classic a year ago, he had only one European Tour event win and his appearances in the majors were few and far between.

What had changed this year, Gallacher is at pains to say.

"I don't know. I've just started to putt a bit better to be honest. I've always played well and struck the ball well.

"You know it's hard to win. I've put myself in positions to win. The crucial one was last year to get the second win after so long and I've been working hard on my game all the time.

"I've tried to see every part of my game that needs improving and I've tried to get the right person in to help for the short game, chipping, putting, my fitness, my long game, everything.

"After that it's just trying to get yourself into contention and then being comfortable there. That's what the top guys do all the time when they are in contention. It just becomes the norm."

Gallacher can also draw inspiration from good friend and compatriot Paul Lawrie who enjoyed a second wind in his golfing career two years ago to break into the Ryder Cup team to play the United States in Chicago.

At 43 Lawrie had a memorable time, notably upsetting Brandt Snedeker in the final day singles to spark a European surge to victory.

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