Scot hopes War­ren can join him at Au­gusta as he pre­pares for dou­ble Dubai de­fence

The Herald - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - BERNIE MCGUIRE

STEPHEN GAL­LACHER is en­cour­ag­ing fel­low Scot Marc War­ren to follow in his Dubai Desert Clas­sic vic­tory foot­steps all the way to mak­ing a Masters de­but this sea­son.

De­spite the dis­ap­point­ment of a sec­ond place fin­ish in last week’s Com­mer­cial Bank Qatar Masters, War­ren jumped 23 spots to be the new World No. 56 and now just six places shy of boost­ing Scot­land’s Au­gusta Na­tional en­trants to four.

If suc­cess­ful in break­ing into the top-50 by the last week in March then War­ren will join Au­gusta-win­ning hero Sandy Lyle, Gal­lacher and reign­ing Bri­tish Am­a­teur cham­pion Bradley Neil tak­ing the drive down Mag­no­lia Lane.

War­ren’s cur­rent rank­ing is his high­est since a ca­reer top of 64th after shar­ing fourth place in last year’s Wales Open.

A year ago Gal­lacher teed up in the de­fence of his Desert Clas­sic ti­tle ranked 67th in the world and with vic­tory send­ing the Bath­gate pro to the World No. 37 in the world and the as­sur­ance of his very first Masters invitation.

“It would be just bril­liant if Marc could join me at Au­gusta this year,” said Gal­lacher.

“The great as­pect about Marc is that he has added a bit of ma­tu­rity and con­sis­tency to his game over the last cou­ple of years.

“I’ve seen it close hand the change in him as a per­son, what with he and Laura now proud par­ents of Archie, and as a re­sult his golf has greatly im­proved.

“Marc’s al­ways been a great player and had the tal­ent and the great thing, as we saw last week in Doha, he’s now play­ing to his po­ten­tial.

“I know when I be­came a fa­ther it changed my out­look on ev­ery­thing, and that’s some­thing that all golfers, and in fact, most per­sons when they be­come par­ents.

“Also since Marc has been work­ing with Alan McCloskey you’ve seen a steady pro­gres­sion in his abil­ity, and while Marc’s al­ways had the tal­ent maybe it’s now be­gin­ning to come to the fore nat­u­rally.”

If there was a turn­ing point in War­ren’s game Gal­lacher sin­gled out War­ren’s su­perb ef­fort in go­ing so close to vic­tory in the 2013 BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship, and strangely his young son’s first tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance.

“You can never say Marc lost at Went­worth be­cause in this sport you al­ways take away pos­i­tives, and be­sides in this sport you are go­ing to lose more tour­na­ments than you will ever win,” said Gal­lacher.

“I spoke to Martin Kaymer yes­ter­day and he says he’s go­ing to be bet­ter player from what hap­pened on the fi­nal day last fort­night in Abu Dhabi.

“You take what tran­spired for me at last year’s Ry­der Cup be­cause I didn’t play as well as I would have liked but then I’ve now got enor­mous en­thu­si­asm to qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for the next one.

“So it’s swings and round­abouts and in the big­ger pic­ture it’s great for Scot­tish golf that we could be star­ing at four Scots com­pet­ing in this year’s Masters.

“It will be great if Marc qual­i­fies and he gets an Au­gusta green bag, as well (smil­ing).”

But while Gal­lacher’s own first Au­gusta Na­tional invitation is firmly af­fixed to a wall in his study, he re­mains in two minds whether to pack a new driver in his bag ahead of his dou­ble Dubai de­fence.

“I hit it good yes­ter­day in the nine­hole Chal­lenge but I just strug­gled a bit with the driver this morn­ing in the Pro-Am but that was be­cause I was feel­ing a bit tired,” he said.

“So I am not sure if I will put it in the bag, and if it’s not this week then it will def­i­nitely be next week.”

Mean­while, The Euro­pean Tour can­celled yes­ter­day af­ter­noon’s Dubai Desert Clas­sic Pro-Am and closed the course and all prac­tice ar­eas after the death of a for­mer Emi­rates Club cap­tain.

Ashok Bak­shi, 75 was due to contest the Pro-Am in the company of French golfer Ro­main Wat­tel but col­lapsed on the prac­tice range.

He was im­me­di­ately at­tended by med­i­cal staff and with a he­li­copter land­ing on the range to con­vey Bak­shi to hos­pi­tal but where he was pro­nounced dead.

Among those also con­test­ing the Pro-Am was for­mer Open Cham­pion Dar­ren Clarke.

“I was on the range, it was very, very sad and the Tour made the right decision,” said Clarke.

FA­MIL­IAR GROUND: Stephen Gal­lacher and cad­die Damian Moore fin­ish prac­tice as the sun sets in Dubai yes­ter­day.

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