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Stephen Gallacher column: Great Britain and Ireland face tough test in Walker Cup

Sandy Scott will miss out on the Walker Cup match due to injury.
Sandy Scott will miss out on the Walker Cup match due to injury.

It is going to be a year like no other for team golf with the Walker Cup, Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup all taking place in the same year for the first time.

The Walker Cup gets the honour of going first this weekend and it promises to be an intriguing event for a few reasons.

The tournament was a big ambition of mine as a youngster, so to realise that dream of playing in it and then to play in the Ryder Cup are memories I will always treasure.

It is a great stepping stone and you just have to look through the history books to see the catalogue of star performers who have played in the match to see how big a platform this is for those involved.

I feel sorry for Nairn’s Sandy Scott who has had to withdraw due to injury, while there are others who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to play their way into contention for this event.

We’ve had no competitive tournaments in the last year in Scotland due to the Covid pandemic. In Scotland alone that’s a lot of guys who have been denied a chance to make the team.

We didn’t even manage to get the Home Internationals played at Royal Dornoch last month to help the team prepare for this week.

It has made the selection process particularly difficult and that’s why I am not surprised to see so many players from the US college scene in the team for the weekend.

They have been able to play in the last 12 months and, given this year’s event is being held in the United States, it makes sense to load the team up with guys who are across the Atlantic.

The task could not be tougher either. It has been 20 years since a Great Britain and Ireland team won on US soil and it does feel as if expectations are lower this year given the challenges our lads have faced.

But with the favourites tag comes the weight of expectation and, if our guys start well, then there is no way of telling how that pressure may begin to take hold of the hosts.

GB&I captain Stuart Wilson is an old playing partner of mine from my younger days and I’ll be rooting for him and the other boys at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida this weekend.

Even if he wasn’t involved, my loyalties would not be in question for this one.

Scottish Open gets star power boost

Collin Morikawa holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park, in San Francisco last year.

What a boost for the European Tour to have Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele join Tyrrell Hatton in the field for the Aberdeen Standards Investment Scottish Open in July.

It is shaping up to be a stellar field this year and there have already been rumours about more leading players joining the fray in the weeks ahead.

It will be music to sponsor ASI’s ears. The tournament is shown on terrestrial television in the United States and I know how much emphasis they have placed on the US market. Having leading figures such as Morikawa and Schauffele, and no doubt there will be more to follow, can only be a good thing.

It’s a Ryder Cup year, which certainly doesn’t do our national event any harm, and, given it has been a year since so many American played here, The Renaissance Club will be an enticing prospect for them this summer ahead of the Open at Royal St George’s.

Selfishly, this is exactly what I was hoping for. I’m a European Tour member and a proud Scot and I want to see my home event featuring the strongest field possible.

The bigger the profile of an event, the better as far as I’m concerned and I’m predicting a field for the Scottish Open which will rival any tournament.

Back to business after hand injury

Stephen Gallacher, who is not a fan of the Player Impact Program.
Stephen Gallacher is set to return to tour duty at The British Masters next week.

I hit full shots for the first time on Tuesday and all being well I plan on heading to Woburn tomorrow to get some rounds of golf under my belt before next week’s British Masters at The Belfry.

It will be my first event since Qatar in March and had it been another event I probably would have given myself another week.

But I’ve spoken to Doug Campbell, the European Tour’s hand surgeon, and he assures me my six-week recovery has allowed the bones in my hand to heal and it’s just a case of shaking off the rust.

The Belfry kicks off a big three-week swing with the British Masters, Made in HimmerLand and Porsche European Open providing a mini-qualification for the US Open.

The top 10 not already exempt after those events will gain a place in the field for Torrey Pines on June 17.