Grieving Stephen Gallacher persuaded to play in Dubai

Stephen Gallacher has been persuaded by his grandmother to stay in the Middle East for this week's Dubai World Championship as a tribute to his grandfather Barney, who died yesterday following a heart attack at the age of 84.

The news was broken to Gallacher, one of only two Scots in the 60-strong field for the European Tour's end-of- season finale, during yesterday's pro-am at Jumeirah Estates and the 36-year-old was ready to jump straight on a plane to head home.

However, after an emotional telephone conversation with grandmother Millie, he has agreed to play in tomorrow's first round in the Dubai event, having been persuaded that's what Barney, his biggest fan, would have wanted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Stephen said he didn't feel like playing but his grandmother spoke to him and said she wanted him to stay for my father," Gallacher's dad, Jim, told The Scotsman last night.

Barney's other son, Ryder Cup-winning captain Bernard, flew up from London last night to be with other members of the family. "It's come as a big shock to us all but he had a long and happy life, which was also illness-free," he said.

While Barney was proud of both his sons, nothing pleased him more than seeing Stephen follow in his uncle Bernard's footsteps as he enjoyed a glittering amateur career before establishing himself as one of Scotland's leading Tour pros. He was up at St Andrews when his grandson won the Dunhill Links in 2004, beating Graeme McDowell in a play-off, and even into his 80s he would watch him play at every opportunity.

"When Stephen came along that was probably even better for Barney than seeing Bernard do well," said Bert Leslie, a former club captain at Bathgate who has known the Gallacher family for a long time. "He went everywhere he could to watch him and was certainly up at The Open this year (when Gallacher finished 23rd)."

The funeral will not be held until Stephen returns from the Dubai event, which has no cut due to it being a reduced field and finishes on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer has followed Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in turning down membership of the PGA Tour in America next season.

The sport's newest major champion made his decision known yesterday in Dubai, where he hopes to be crowned the European Tour's leading money-winner this season and possibly world No 1 as well.

Kaymer, now an honorary member of the Tour along with US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, lives part of the year in Arizona, but even that was not enough to prompt him to play both circuits in 2011.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I consider European Tour as my home - that is where I feel comfortable," said the 25-year-old German. "I think you play against the best players in the world. You have all of the great players here and schedule-wise it doesn't fit for me next year to play on the PGA Tour."Asked if he had received a call from a crying Tim Finchem, the US Tour commissioner, Kaymer added: "Not yet. Maybe I'll get one on Monday. I made my decision. I sat down last week with my manager and family and had a look at the schedule. I will play probably two or three more events in America, but mainly I will play in Europe."