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Stephen Gallacher: Here’s hoping British Masters is the last UK tournament with no fans

Danny Willett is tournament host of the British Masters this week
Danny Willett is tournament host of the British Masters this week

I’m hoping this week’s British Masters is the last one I’ll play in Britain without any fans in attendance.

Danny Willett has done a terrific job of tournament host and I know he is disappointed at the event at the Belfry going ahead without any spectators in attendance.

This event has been on our tour for years and it is tough when you see fans at the Crucible for the snooker a week ago and finals being played at Wembley in front of fans, too, but not being allowed to come to watch the first European Tour event in Britain this year.

Had we been a month down the line then I’m confident we would have had fans here with us, but we’ve worked so hard and come so far that I’m willing to forsake having family and friends here with me if it pays off in the long run.

It is much stricter here than it has been in recent weeks too. I’ve spoken to a few of the boys and they were allowed to go out in twos in Tenerife and could eat outside in a restaurant.

But here we’re living as if we’re in barracks. Once you arrive at the venue, you are here until it concludes.

It’s not the easiest of environments to deal with, but one you have to endure if you want to play this week, but hopefully the end is in sight and the baby steps we’re taking at the moment will pay off two months down the line.

It’s certainly sounding promising. The R&A have announced they expect fans in substantial numbers for the Open in July and that has raised my hopes about having supporters in Ireland and Scotland too.

The chatter about the European championship games at Hampden and Wembley have been very positive and I see no reason why we can accommodate 10-15,000 fans for the games there, but not across acres of a golf course in the summer.

Although the wait to play in front of fans will continue a little while longer, you still can’t wipe the smile off my face as I get set to make my return to action today.

I saw the European Tour’s hand surgeon, Doug Campbell, and he was delighted with how well my hand has healed after my unfortunate injury while cycling.

I visited the Titleist factory and did some work on my putting with Jamie Donaldson on my way to the Belfry and have played 18 holes one day, nine on Monday and practised yesterday.

Doug, who is also the Leeds United doctor, says the hand has healed amazingly well, so it is full speed ahead for me now and I feel as if my season starts here.

I’m not kidding myself, I’m rusty after having to spend time on the sidelines, but mentally I feel fresh and my mood has certainly been boosted after being given the green light from Doug yesterday.

No surprise as Rory returns to winning ways

Rory McIlroy holds the trophy after winning during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday

Rory McIlroy proved his doubters wrong with an impressive return to the winners’ circle after a 19-month absence at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday.

I cast my mind back to Rory’s comments on the eve of the Masters, where he said he had no expectations of winning at Augusta as his focus was on the bigger picture.

He has gone back and simplified his game and it has paid a handsome dividend already. But if you speak to any of his peers in the game no-one will be surprised to see him celebrating a win again.

He’s such a good player that it was inevitable, but it doesn’t matter how good you are – and I include Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in this – everyone goes through peaks and troughs in their career and Rory is no exception.

He’s teamed up with swing coach Pete Cowen and done some work with sports psychologist Bob Rotella, so whatever he has been doing it has paid off.

It was great to see him pay tribute to his caddie Harry Diamond, whose advice at the last proved crucial in helping Rory win the event.

It goes to show the importance of having the right people around you. If you trust and rely on the advice you are given then that is half the battle won.

The other half is executing and Rory has shown yet again he is the best in the business on his day.

I genuinely believe when he is at his best he is the number one guy in the game. I’m sure his peers would say the same.

Stuart deserves another Walker Cup chance

Stuart Wilson deserves another crack at captaining the Great Britain and Ireland team in the Walker Cup

I hope Stuart Wilson gets the nod to lead Great Britain and Ireland’s bid to reclaim the Walker Cup at St Andrews in 2023.

Stuart did a terrific job in guiding the team in the most testing of situations at Seminole at the weekend, but fell just short of becoming only the third man to captain the team to victory on US soil as the hosts won 14-12 to retain the trophy.

Food poisoning affected both camps in the build-up to the match, but credit to Stuart and his players for pushing the US team all the way.

The team showed a great team spirit and for me Stuart has earned another go at it. Hopefully he’ll get it.

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