DURING Europe’s entertaining post-match press conference on Sunday night, Paul McGinley was talking about being in the “twilight of my career, 47 years of age, old man . . .” when a voice piped up from along to his left.
“He wears a vest,” said Stephen Gallacher as he interjected his captain, who, for a few minutes, then became the subject of some serious teasing by other members of the team. ‘Paul McGinley wears a vest’, they sang.
A few minutes later, as the joviality continued at the other end of the podium, Martin Kaymer, sitting next to him, turned to Gallacher and asked the Scot: “How’s your motivation now for Hazeltine (where the next Ryder Cup takes place in 2016)?”
Speaking after the players had split away to conduct individual interviews, Gallacher told the Scottish golfing media: “I just said: ‘What do you think?’”
Far from being disheartened by only playing in two of the five sessions and being unable to contribute something tangible to Europe’s 16½ 11½ victory, the 39-year-old’s Ryder Cup appetite has been well and truly whetted by its 40th staging.
“This gives me a massive motivation now,” he admitted. “The big thing about this group has been having fun, turning thoughts into action. The big thing going forward now is trying to keep this bunch together, I think. I’ve heard it said that, when you play in one Ryder Cup, you never want to miss another. I understand that now. Sam Torrance phoned me up a couple of months back, before I’d even qualified, and he said this would be the best week of my life. And, give him his due, he was right. This has been the best week of my life. To be in the company of the greatest players in the world has been something else.
“It’s allowed me to evaluate my own game, be up close with them, learn from them, study what everybody does.”
He did that in his own team room and also in his singles match against Phil Mickelson, who shrugged off his poor form on the opening day to cover 17 holes in six-under in winning 3 and 1.
“Phil is a class guy, a class act,” said Gallacher. “He’s one of these guys I really appreciate, how good he is with the people, how much a gentleman he is, how he carries himself. I want to carry myself like him.”
Reflecting on a high-quality match between the pair, he added: “I thought I gave Phil, one of the best players in the world, a man with five majors, a good game. He played hard, I played hard, I just ran out of steam in the end.”
After losing along with Ian Poulter in the opening fourballs, Gallacher was left out of the next three sessions by Paul McGinley. Sore as though that might have been, he was prepared to take it on the chin. “Yes, I’d have loved to have been involved,” he said. “But would I rather sit out and have the team win? Yeah, I’d always rather the team win.”