STEPHEN Gallacher is set to be lightly raced heading into The Masters as the Scottish No 1 has just two starts planned between now and when he heads up Magnolia Lane in early April.
The 40-year-old makes his first PGA Tour outing of the season today when he joins world No 1 Rory McIlroy in the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, before staying on in Florida for next week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami.
“I’m then having three weeks off before The Masters,” said Gallacher. “I had thought about playing another event, but I feel the best preparation is to get there early and get familiar with it again.”
Gallacher, who finished joint-34th on his debut at Augusta National last year, will take another break after the season’s opening major before returning to America for another double-header – the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco then the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass.
It means his next appearance in Europe will be the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth towards the end of May as he maps out a schedule that is aimed at him peaking in the big events and also being fresh for when the 2016 Ryder Cup qualifying campaign starts in August.
“I’ve set my stall out and everything is geared for the Ryder Cup,” said the Lothians man, a member of Europe’s triumphant team at Gleneagles last year. “When the Ryder Cup qualifying starts I want everything to be in place. You need to be in the top 50 in the world, you need to be winning and you need to be fit. There are a lot of wee things that add up to giving yourself the best chance then it comes down to how you perform.”
The three-times European Tour winner missed the cut by a shot in the Honda Classic 12 months ago, when compatriot Russell Knox lost out in a play-off to Russell Henley, before finishing sixth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship. “This week’s course is magic and I really like Doral, so I’m really looking forward to these two weeks enormously,” added the world No 32.
Knox returns after a two-week break, while McIlroy, who also lost out in the play-off a year ago, is making his first appearance since succeeding Gallacher as the Dubai Desert Classic champion.
Elsewhere, six Scots, including Amateur champion Bradley Neil, Chris Doak, David Drysdale and Craig Lee, are among those chasing three Open Championship spots at St Andrews that are up for grabs in the Joburg Open starting today at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington.
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