Gallagher fights way through pain to secure final place
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.