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