Gallagher faces McDowell test at Match Play

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STEPHEN Gallacher has been drawn in the same group as former US Open winner Graeme McDowell, the man he beat in a play-off to claim the Dunhill Links title nine years ago, in this week’s Volvo Match Play Championship in Bulgaria.

Joining them in the Seve Ballesteros Group at the Thracian Cliffs in Kavarna is lanky Englishman Chris Wood, with the top two advancing to the last 16. Gallacher is making his debut in the £2.5 million event, along with compatriot Scott Jamieson, who was also one of the eight players in the 24-man field drawn at random. Jamieson is in the Mark McCormack Group against Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Swede Carl Pettersson.

Defending the title in the event’s first visit to Bulgaria is big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who beat Paul Lawrie at the 20th in the semi-finals in Spain 12 months ago before edging McDowell on the 18th in the final. He is up against Malaysian Open winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat and South African Branden Grace, while 2011 winner Ian Poulter faces another Springbok, Thomas Aiken, and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the only player to receive an invitation rather than qualify, faces Francesco Molinari and Felipe Aguilar, with Peter Hanson, George Coetzee and Shane Lowry in another group. Bo Van Pelt, Richard Sterne and Geoff Ogilvy will also lock horns tomorrow and Friday, as will Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Jamie Donaldson and Brett Rumford.