Golf: Late penalty proves costly for Gallacher at St Andrews

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LOTHIANS duo Stephen Gallacher and Lloyd Saltman were left to count the cost of painful blows as they chased golfing glory on the European stage.

Gallacher was hit with a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball as he finished in a tie for fifth in the £3.5 million Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. And Saltman missed out on his first win in the paid ranks after closing with a brace of bogeys in the Lyon Open on the Challenge Tour.

Gallacher, winner of the big-money pro-am event in 2004, was lying fourth, three shots off the lead, when he played the wrong ball at the 16th on the Old Course.

It led to a quadruple-bogey 8 for the Bathgate man and dropped him into a tie for tenth place before finishing par-birdie to figure in a logjam for fifth.

He picked up a cheque for £80,990 and jumped to 35th in the Race to Dubai, but a par-4 at that hole would have earned him third spot on his own and a £183,695 pay-day. “We were both playing Titleists with the same number but with different markings,” said Gallacher of the incident that involved Englishman Danny Willett’s amateur playing partner.

“When I got to my ball it was side on and I didn’t think anything of it as the amateur had teed off 100 yards further up.

“I only realised I’d played the wrong ball when his caddie said another ball that was five yards away in the rough wasn’t theirs.” David Drysdale enjoyed his first experience of playing the event’s final round, having failed to make the cut in six previous appearances.

“Correct,” said the 37-year-old from Cockburnspath in reply to being asked if he felt he’d been due to pick up a cheque in the tournament.

He had Ernie Els for company in the final round but shot a 68 to beat the Open champion by three shots on the day. “I’ve played with Ernie a few times now and I really enjoy his company,” said Drysdale, who tied for 15th on 12-under. “He’s a great guy to play with and I’ve managed to either beat him or tie with him every time.”

Drysdale’s effort kept him in the top 60 in the Race to Dubai, keeping him on course for just his second appearance in the season-ending Tour Championship. “I’ve not got many tournaments left,” he revealed. “I’m off to Portugal this week then have the South African Open (at the end of November).”

Drysdale will head into these events feeling more confident about his game than he was at the start of Dunhill week.

“After playing well in the first half of the season, I’ve had no rhythm in the last six events and had missed two cuts in four before this,” he said. South African Branden Grace won the event on 22-under.

Saltman, meanwhile, had to settle for a tie for third despite leading for most of the final round in France. The Archerfield ace but finished 5-5 when a par at either of those holes would have been good enough to earn a place in a play-off. It was won by another Scot, Chris Doak.