Gal­lagher fights way through pain to se­cure fi­nal place

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Golf - KEVIN FER­RIE

JOHN GAL­LAGHER took over­com­ing ad­ver­sity to new lev­els at Prest­wick yes­ter­day as he won de­spite be­ing hin­dered by a se­vere in­jury and hav­ing taken dog’s abuse which led to him los­ing a hole that left him four down with six to play.

The 26-year-old in­ter­na­tional player cre­ated a huge stir two years ago with his cack­handed swing as he reached the fi­nal of the Bri­tish Ama­teur Cham­pi­onship. But he had the de­meanour of a man who has had a grim year for much of yes­ter­day’s Al­lied Sur­vey­ors Scot­tish Ama­teur semi-fi­nal.

He has not played for five weeks as he awaits com­plex surgery on his frac­tured left wrist, a pro­ce­dure that will take place next month. While that lay-off meant he at least be­gan this com­pe­ti­tion pain free, in yes­ter­day’s round he was suf­fer­ing so much he was swal­low­ing Ibupro­fen at 6am and had taken eight tablets in all by the end of the day’s play.

He was ac­com­pa­nied only by a cou­ple of club­mates as he faced the well-sup­ported lo­cal vet­eran Al­lan Thom­son, and it was hardly sur­pris­ing that his re­solve seemed to have gone af­ter a freak set of events at the 11th. Gal­lagher had birdied the 10th with a 20ft swing­ing putt and felt he was gen­er­at­ing mo­men­tum when he hit a 2-iron on to the hard-to-hold green at the par-3 11th.

“I’ve never had any­thing hap­pen to me in my life like what hap­pened next,” he said. “Al­lan topped a 3-wood 40 yards, but found a lie. He hit it on to the front of the green then holed a 50-footer, right to left.

Gal­lagher still had a putt for the hole, but was rat­tled, more so when he was in­ter­rupted just as he was about to strike it. “I was over my putt when a dog [brought on to the course by a spec­ta­tor] barked. I made a pig’s ear of it and three putted.”

Gal­lagher then tossed his ball into a green­side bunker, but his fa­ther helped calm him down and the young man set about turn­ing the match around.

The 12th was halved, then a su­perb birdie putt at the 13th gave Gal­lagher mo­men­tum. Thom­son fi­nally ran out of steam af­ter hav­ing had to work on Wed­nes­day night and again early yes­ter­day morn­ing to make up for a back­log of work at his roof­ing busi­ness.

Tthe younger man held his game to­gether the bet­ter. A birdie at the 18th took it into ex­tra holes where Thom­son who ad­mit­ted to feel­ing “done in”, strug­gled to a bo­gey.

In to­day’s 36-hole fi­nal, Gal­lagher meets Keir McNicoll, who be­came the last sur­viv­ing seed af­ter the quar­ter-fi­nal de­feat of the favourite, Lloyd Salt­man, by his Craigielaw club­mate Shaun McAl­lis­ter.

Salt­man, who will turn pro af­ter the Walker Cup, ex­pressed con­fi­dence his friend could go the dis­tance. But McAl­lis­ter, 18, then lost to McNicoll – with his con­queror now aiming to match the achieve­ment of his Carnoustie club­mate David Greig, win­ner of this event the year their course hosted the Open Cham­pi­onship in 1975.

Craigielaw hopes that the club’s name would be in­scribed on the tro­phy for the first time were over. They be­gan the day with three still in the draw but the other, Mark Hill­son, lost to Gal­lagher in the morn­ing.

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