PAUL Lawrie, the sole Scot to play in any of the last three Ryder Cups, has offered to give Stephen Gallacher advice in his bid to ensure Paul McGinley’s team for September’s match at Gleneagles has a tartan tinge.
Gallacher has jumped to 14th on the European points list after becoming the first player to successfully defend the Dubai Desert Classic title, the success also catapulting him 30 places to 37th in the world rankings.
It means the 39-year-old has secured spots in all four majors this season as well as the three WGC events before the 12 berths in McGinley’s team to take on the Americans in Perthshire will be decided.
While Lawrie has by no means given up on his own bid to retain one of those spots after helping pull off the ‘Miracle at Medinah’, the Aberdonian reckons Gallacher is now by far the best bet among the home hopefuls to make the team and is ready to help his friend in whatever way he can.
“Stevie has a huge opportunity to get in the team and, though I don’t want to put any pressure on him like anyone else does, the way he is playing and the way he is talking, I can’t see him not getting in. But he knows as well as I do that he has to play some unbelievable golf to get in that team no matter how good he is playing and how good the events he is playing in,” said Lawrie.
“We have to be careful that we don’t label him that he is in. You guys are asking all the time, and we understand that. But you’ve got to get the points on the board. Stevie knows that, and it’s up to him to focus on what he needs to focus on about getting into the Ryder Cup team. He is in a lot of big events in America, but you need to play well in them. If you play poorly in them you go down the rankings, as I did last year.”
Lawrie, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Brookline in 1999 before bridging a 13-year gap to get back on the European team in Chicago, added: “I’d love to help Stevie if he needs me. I’m sure he’ll ask. You just have to play your golf, one shot at a time and not worry about what’s going on. It might end up that he gets in easily and finds it a doddle. I imagine he’ll get to a certain point in a few weeks time when he’ll start thinking about it.
“It’ll be huge. I don’t think there’s anything bigger than getting in a Ryder Cup team in your own country. Ideally, you’d love a Scotsman in the team but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. It’s not as though you need it. But for the crowd we would want it.
“Right now, he is by far our best bet. He’s got the best opportunities, he’s in all the best tournaments, he’s winning, he’s having top tens for fun. I hope he gets it. Of all of us, he’s the obvious one. I can help him hugely. I’ve played in a couple, I know what it takes. He asks a lot of questions, he’s keen to learn. He’s not much younger than me and we chat a lot. He’s got a great chance of getting in the team, but we have to be careful not to just think ‘right that’s him in’. He’s got a lot of work to do to make it and he knows that. I think he has maybe €600,000 now. I think €2.3 million got in last time. He has to make €1.7m- €1.8m more. That’s a big ask, that’s a lot of proper golf he has to play. He’s got a fantastic opportunity. The other thing he will have in the back of his mind is that Paul McGinley has three picks. Even if he doesn’t make the team, he’d be a fantastic pick. But picking a rookie is tough.”
Having partnered Gallacher in both the Seve Trophy and Royal Trophy last year, Lawrie is in a good position to offer an opinion on what has helped his compatriot break into the world’s top 50 for the first time and reckons that was crystal clear as he mastered the lightning-fast Emirates greens last week.
“We all know he has always been a great ball striker and his attitude has also been great. Now he is holing putts he needs to hole and it’s the difference,” he observed. “He’s doing now what I need to do at the moment. I’m hitting the ball as good as him, but when you can’t get the ball in the hole you can’t compete.
“Stevie has found a way to get the ball in the hole. He’s a better putter than he’s ever been. He went to see Dave Stockton last year in between tournaments. I’m not sure how much that has helped him, but it must have done something, for all of a sudden he is holing putts.
“He’s a lovely holer-out now. He used to miss a lot of putts from eight to ten feet. I’ve hardly seen him miss any from that range now. If you can knock a few in you can get off with playing mediocre and still shoot a decent scores. If you can’t knock them in it doesn’t matter how good you play, you can’t break 70.”