British Masters could be uphill battle for Stephen Gallacher

While the hilly nature of the Close House course has both Russell Knox and Richie Ramsay licking their lips heading into the British Masters, the challenge for Stephen Gallacher this week is likely to be more physical than technical.

Stephen Gallacher has recovered from illness and will play in the British Masters this week.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Stephen Gallacher has recovered from illness and will play in the British Masters this week. Picture: Ian Rutherford

It was just a week ago, after all, that the three-time European Tour winner found himself on a drip after suffering chronic sinusitis and, as a consequence, withdrew from the Portugal Masters in Villamoura before the second round.

“Last week floored me,” admitted Gallacher. “I’m about 80 per cent. That’s why I just played the pro-am, especially on what it is a physically demanding course. It is going to be a bit of a battle and, having started to feel a bit tired towards the end, I’m going to go back to the hotel now to chill.”

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Knox always had this event on his schedule before adding last week’s tournament in Portugal when he made an early exit in the PGA Tour Play-Offs. The Invernesian had been due to partner Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in the opening two rounds here before the Dane pulled out with a neck problem.

“That’s a shame as it would have been the first time I’d played with him since he was appointed,” said Knox, who is hoping to sign off his 2017 campaign on a high and believes a course designed by Scott MacPherson in collaboration with Lee Westwood could suit his game.

“It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea – there are a few who probably won’t enjoy it,” he observed of it being on the side of a hill. “I do, though. Length isn’t going to be a massive factor here. There’s going to be a lot of mid-irons, so someone with great iron play is going to do great this week.”

Concurring, Ramsay said: “It probably plays into my hands a bit. We’re brought up on a few courses like this with elevation, and you’ve got to judge how the wind affects the ball when you’re hitting down. It actually might be quite good for me. A few guys probably don’t like it so much.

“It’s definitely not linksy, but it looks good on the eye, and the course condition is very good. The greens are a good speed for the slope on them. You probably can’t have too much faster because there are a few greens that are quite quick front to back.”

Marc Warren, bidding to back up his second-placed finish in Portugal on Sunday, David Drysdale, Scott Jamieson and Duncan Stewart are the other Scots in the field after Paul Lawrie withdrew.