They say winning is everything, but that’s not necessarily the case. Just ask Stephen Gallacher and David Law, the two Scottish players to deliver title triumphs on the 2019 European Tour.
Outwith his fourth career win on the circuit in the Hero Indian Open, Gallacher managed just one top-25 finish while Law’s best efforts other than his breakthrough success in the ISPS Handa Vic Open victory were a couple of top 15s.
Those successes, of course, secured welcome exemptions that mean their cards are secure through to the 2021 campaign, but Gallacher and Law have a common goal of achieving a bit more consistency throughout this year.
“Last season was strange,” admitted Gallacher, speaking to The Scotsman as he prepared to start his 24th campaign on the circuit in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “It was great winning with [son] Jack on the bag and the only thing that will top that is doing it again. It is always nice to win – I’ve only done it four times in nearly 600 events out here, which shows how hard it is – and it sets me up this year and next year to keep going.
“At the same time, though, I missed a lot of cuts last season by a shot or two shots. I just wasn’t as consistent as I normally am. I normally have a lot more top-10 finishes than just one and it was a tough year mentally. That’s why I had a break at the end of last season.
“I’ve used that to have a re-evaluation of everything. I’ve had a break from the coaching side of things. I’m trying to free my brain up a bit to try and get some consistency back. It is all about getting into position on a Sunday. The more times you do it the better.”
Referring to compatriot and last year’s Rookie of the Year, the 45-year-old added: “It’s like Bob MacIntyre. It’s inevitable that he is going to win and when he wins his first one, I think he will win a few. Because he’s getting into contention on Sunday a lot, he’s learning all the time. His time will come and that’s what I want to get back to, feeling as though I am competing again and getting back up the order of merit. If you’ve won before, you know what to do. The instinct is there. It’s just about getting into that position more often.
“You look at guys like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Yes, they’ve had loads of wins, but they’ve also had loads of seconds and thirds. If you are going to win a lot, you are going to have a lot of seconds and thirds as well.”
Law, who is teeing up in his fourth event of the season this week, landed the win in Australia in just his fifth event back as a card holder on the top circuit after graduating from the Challenge Tour before ending up 92nd, two spots below Gallacher, in the Race to Dubai.
“It was a very up and down year and, ultimately, a disappointing year after winning,” admitted the 28-year-old Aberdonian. “But it was all a good experience. I found it quite tough, to be honest, as I was going to courses I’d never been before and the preparation changed quite a lot because of that.
“It was nice to have the exemption there so I could take it in a bit and hopefully that will stand me in good stead for this season. The win was great, especially to know that you can do it out here and also the way it happened as you take so much confidence from that.
“It would just be nice to be up there a little bit more this season and that’s the goal. Ultimately, the goal is to win again, but you need to give yourself chances to do that. It’s not like you are going to win every time you are up there. You might just win one in 20 when you are up there. It’s about getting those chances and gaining more experience in big events.”
Twelve months after receiving a late spot in the Rolex Series event, the newly-married Law feels better prepared not just for this week’s tough test at Abu Dhabi Golf Club but also for the majority of challenges ahead in 2020. “I’ve not made any particular changes for this year, but I feel as though my game has come on a lot,” added the 2018 Scottish Hydro Challenge champion. “It was good to almost have the exemption there to try and improve things. The ball flight is now a little bit higher and I am hitting it a little bit longer than I was.
“I’m coming to these events this year and feeling a bit more confident. I struggled in these events in the desert last year. I was hitting the ball a bit low and probably didn’t have a game that suited all the courses out here.
“I feel now that I am in a better position in that respect. I feel my game is in shape to compete in all the events, not just some of them.”