Stephen Gallacher calls for action against slow play

Stephen Gallacher was unhappy about having to wait over every shot in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images
Stephen Gallacher was unhappy about having to wait over every shot in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images
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Stephen Gallacher hit out at slow play and joined Richie Ramsay in bemoaning putting woes as the two Scots left standing endured a frustrating final day in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Gallacher and his playing partner, Australian Scott Hend, waited from start to finish behind Frenchman Benjamin Hebert and American Seungsu Han in blustery last-round conditions at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Richie Ramsay was delighted about how he played from tee to green in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - but not his putting. Picture: Getty Images

Richie Ramsay was delighted about how he played from tee to green in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - but not his putting. Picture: Getty Images

“It took ages - four hours and 10 minutes for a two-ball is not good,” declared the Lothians man afterwards. “We waited on every shot and the guys in front were on the clock the whole time.”

Gallacher has used a weekly newspaper column to regularly voice his opinion about slow play on the European Tour over the years and believes officials need to start cracking down.

“They need to introduce penalty shots - it must be that,” he added before describing the Shot Clock Masters, a new event being held in Austria later in the year, as a “gimmick”.

Ramsay finished as the leading Scot in this week’s event after leapfrogging Gallacher with a closing 72, level par, as his compatriot closed with a 76.

The Aberdonian was delighted about how he played from tee to green on all four days in his first outing in 2018 but reckoned his putting had cost him a much higher finish than joint-40th.

“The putter cost me this week,” he said after ending up on six-under-par. “I just couldn’t make anything and for me, especially on that golf course, that makes a big difference.

“Today was a 69 if I’d putted well. The course doesn’t overly favour me due to it being so long and wideopen and, if you then don’t putt well, then it makes it doubly difficult to do well.”

The fact he’d worked hard on his putting during the winter break and come here feeling confident he had found something that might lead to improvement on the greens merely added to the 34-year-old’s frustration.

“It is really pissing me off at the moment as I’m just not making anything,” he admitted. “The rest of my game is good but I need need to improve on the greens.

“I honestly can’t remember when I putted well for a full tournament. And, if you look at the stats, they will back that up. That is the missing link!”

Gallacher had seven bogeys and three birdies on his card on a day when he struggled on greens that hadn’t been cut or rolled overnight due to strong winds for the last round.

“I actually played all right. I certainly didn’t play anything like four-over, that’s for sure. But I think I had four or five three-putts,” reported the 43-year-old after dropping more than 30 spots to end up joint-61st.

“It was tough to get the speed. I left my first putt eight feet short from 20 feet and then kept knocking everything past.”

That included the last, where he hit two great shots into the wind to find the green but walked off with a par-5.

“I had 75 feet for an eagle but was left with an 18-footer for the next one, having already-putted the 16th from 30 feet and also three-putting the 14th,” he said.

Like Ramsay, Gallacher will now turn his attention to the second event in a desert double-header, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic starting on Thursday.

With seven top 10s, including two wins, Gallacher has a brilliant record in that event and is looking forward to being back in action on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.

“It’s let me get a bit rust off and I know what I need to work on,” he said of this event, his first outing in 2018.

“I need to drive the ball better, but the big thing today was simply stuggling with the pace of the greens.”