Stephen Gallacher edges into BMW Masters

Birthday boy Stephen Gallacher breathed a sigh of relief as he headed home from Belek last night after almost certainly extending his season through until the end of the European Tour’s Final Series.
Stephen Gallagher. Picture: Michael GillenStephen Gallagher. Picture: Michael Gillen
Stephen Gallagher. Picture: Michael Gillen

When the Scot signed off with a 72 to finish on seven-under-par in the Turkish Airlines Open, he was not entirely sure that he would qualify for the BMW Masters in China, the penultimate event, due to the field for that having been cut from 78 last year to 63 next week.

Having come into this tournament lying 60th in the Race to Dubai, it left Gallacher with little wriggle room on his 41st birthday but, in finishing joint 26th, he ended up jumping a welcome three spots in the standings.

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It’s unlikely this week’s WGC HSBC Champions – for which Marc Warren is the only Scot in the field (though Russell Knox is first reserve) – will have much impact on them as far as Gallacher is concerned, meaning he is likely to get into the BMW Masters and also qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship in Dubai as well.

“It’s pleasing as I only had three spots to play with,” said the Ryder Cup player, who was content with his overall performance at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal but admitted he had been left to rue a triple-bogey 8 at the fourth on Saturday’s card and a double-bogey 6 at the ninth on his closing circuit.

“My approach was right at the flag but came up a foot short after the wind had picked up and rolled back into the water,” said Gallacher of a blow that undid earlier good in picking up three shots to get to 10-under. “That stopped me in my tracks and, but for the 8 and 6, I’d have 
finished in the top ten.”

While Warren and Richie Ramsay will also be playing in that event, the Turkish tournament marked the end of David Drysdale’s 2015 campaign. Needing at least a top-ten finish to progress to Shanghai next week, he ended up in a share of 41st on four-under after a closing 74.

“It is disappointing to finish my season on that note, as I played really poorly today, but the upside is that I’ve had a good month since coming back from my calf injury and I’ll be aiming to crack on next season,” said the 40-year-old Borderer.

On his return after a five-week absence due to an eye infection, Ramsay signed off with a four-under 68 to finish just outside the top 50 on one-under. “That was much better, though it still could have been a bit lower if my short irons had been dialled in,” said the Aberdonian.

While Warren ended up with just five players behind him in the 78-strong field after a last-round 76 for a seven-over total, the Scottish No 1 insisted he had been heartened by the way he had started hitting the ball on his back nine.