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Stephen Gallacher: Scottish success on the European Tour has been hard earned

Calum Hill's win in the Cazoo Classic showed Scottish Golf is in a good place.
Calum Hill's win in the Cazoo Classic showed Scottish Golf is in a good place.

Seeing a Scot lift a European Tour title for the second week in a row is as welcome as it is overdue.

Calum Hill’s win at the Cazoo Classic on Sunday made it back-to-back Scottish wins on the European Tour for the first time in nine years, following Grant Forrest’s Hero Open success the previous week.

I said two weeks ago I fancied the chances of a home win at Fairmont St Andrews as we had 17 Scots in the field, but to have three in contention was fantastic.

I’ve said before, but it is worth repeating – when you watch a compatriot enjoy success it makes you even more determined to emulate it and that’s what we’ve seen with Calum and Grant.

Just as Grant learned a painful lesson from being in contention only to fall away at the Irish Open last month, Calum used the experience of losing out to Grant by romping to victory on Sunday.

I’ve made the point previously: if you can win on the Challenge Tour, you can win anywhere and Calum has proved that sentiment. He won there in 2018 and 2019, so it does not surprise me to see him tick a European Tour win off his checklist now.

He has had to bide his time, in all likelihood due to Covid-19, but now that he has won one I’m sure more will follow.

The fact it has taken nine years for Scots to win consecutive events tells you how hard it is. I’ve been runner-up in several tournaments and have had half a dozen third place finishes along the way too.

I’ve been up there plenty times, but getting across the line and winning is really tough.

That’s why I will celebrate Calum and Grant’s recent successes. I’ve been doing this a little longer than they have and I know how much work it takes to win a tournament.

They’ve got a good management company in Bounce looking after them and the right support team is just as important as your clubs. Here’s hoping we’re celebrating a few more Scottish wins in the remaining weeks of the season.

Carnasty remains the ultimate test

The women playing Carnoustie for the first time this week are about to discover why the course has the nickname Carnasty.

Golf’s greatest test awaits the field for the Women’s Open and I’m intrigued to see how the professionals do on a notorious course.

It’s one of my favourite courses in the world, because I know no matter what the conditions it is a fierce test.

It doesn’t matter if it’s blowing a gale or mild, soft and bouncy or bone dry, Carnoustie is the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance and it’s not uncommon to see some in woolly hats and waterproofs one minute and then playing in serene conditions half an hour later.

Those who played at Dumbarnie in the Women’s Scottish Open last week will benefit from having a week of tournament golf here before moving onto Carnoustie, but I’m expecting a competitive and gruelling few days ahead.

At least Gemma Dryburgh and Kelsea MacDonald, who both will be competing this week, will know what to expect. Others may be caught out.

Whoever wins will have earned it, that’s for sure, but they will have to go some to eclipse Sophia Popov’s fairytale win last year.

carnoustie women's open
Sophia Popov is defending the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.

She became a major winner overnight and is now in contention for a place in the team for the Solheim Cup.

PGA Tour presence set to increase in Europe as race for Ryder Cup heats up

Justin Rose faces a fight to make the European Ryder Cup team.

I am not surprised to see some big names miss out on the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour.

Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler are among the big names to miss out this year after finishing outside the top 125.

It’s another example of how Covid has impacted so many professionals. There are a few guys who feel as if this year is a reset and they are getting ready to go again in 2022.

I know I feel that way.

While I’m disappointed for Justin, I’m thrilled to see him making positive noises about coming over to the European Tour for a few weeks.

There are Ryder Cup spots up for grabs and I’m sure Justin will want to put himself in wildcard contention.

I expect for that reason we’ll see a few more big names making the switch to our tour in the next couple of weeks.

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