Stephen Gallacher is back working with Alan McCloskey, his coach when the Scot chalked up eight top 10s to secure one of Paul McGinley’s wild cards for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
The pair’s split last summer led Gallacher to seek swing advice from Pete Cowen and Mike Walker, but he has now linked up again with McCloskey and gained an immediate reward with his best round for five months and a top-15 finish in Malaysia at the weekend.
“I think the break may have done us good,” said Gallacher as he prepared for his opening round today in the ISPS Handa Perth International at Lake Karrinyup. “It just wasn’t working out for me with Pete Cowen and Mike Walker. “Sometimes trying something different works, sometimes it doesn’t. I tried my best, but I decided to go back to Alan.”
McCloskey, the PGA pro at Bothwell Castle, was voted Scottish Golf’s Coach of the Year for 2014 on the back of helping Gallacher get into the Ryder Cup and also seeing another of his pupils, Marc Warren, land a third European Tour win in Denmark.
“It was a big decision to make,” added Gallacher of the pair’s range reunion. “I phoned him up and we have gone back to basics. He knows my swing inside out and I have just started to hit it a bit better, as simple as that.” Hoping he can back up a confidence-boosting effort in Kuala Lumpur, Gallacher has been joined in making the long trip to Perth for a single stop for the European Tour in Australia by two of his compatriots, David Drysdale and Jamie McLeary.
For Drysdale, it’s a return to a venue that is rekindling some fond memories, the Cockburnspath man having holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the last green in the same event at the end of the 2014 season to hang on to his card by climbing from 116th to 103rd in the Race to Dubai.
“I’m hoping I can re-create that week,” admitted Drysdale as he looked forward to playing his eighth event on the spin, a journey that started with two tournaments in South Africa, involved a return trip there for another one after three weeks in the Middle East before teeing it up in Malaysia last week.
“Holing that putt on the 18th was very special and I’m looking forward to playing this course again. It’s in pristine condition and is what I’d describe as a proper golf course with fast greens. Hopefully it suits my eye again.”
Echoing Drysdale’s comments, Gallacher said of the Alister MacKenzie-designed layout: “You have to hit the ball both ways and you need height and to control the spin, which is the way I like to play the game.”
Also competing in Australia this week – in the RACV Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast – are Sally Watson, Kylie Walker and Heather MacRae and Pamela Pretswell.
The latter is making her return from the back injury that forced her to retire when in contention in the New Zealand Ladies Open then sit out a qualifier for the Australian equivalent last week. “The back is feeling better,” said Pretswell, who was only able to last six holes in the final round of the New Zealand event when she was in touch with eventual winner and world No 1 Lydia Ko.
“I had a rest week last week and lots of good physio. I’ve been well looked after by the Tour physio this week, played nine holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday, so I’m looking forward to getting started. Fingers crossed all goes okay.”