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Stephen Gallacher: Home early after losing the pain game

Stephen Gallacher is nursing a back injury.
Stephen Gallacher is nursing a back injury.

It is fair to say I’ve had better weeks.

I made the decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the Ras Al Khaimah Classic at Al Hamra Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates.

It’s just my luck that I’d be on the other side of the world and have the chance to play in two different tournaments at the same venue back to back and I have to pull out of both.

I missed the Ras Al Khaimah Championship last week too after suffering a back injury and I’m just not in good enough shape to compete which is why I headed home yesterday.

Forget swinging a golf club, sleep has been a challenge and when you are in that sort of bother you know you need to listen to your body.

I’m still at a loss to understand how it happened really. I was on the practice range just as the tournament was about to begin and was hitting the ball so well I sent videos to my coach.

Five shots later I couldn’t move.

It was a muscle spasm initially but now whenever I swing a club and rotate the pain shoots down my leg as so there is definitely something happening with the sciatic nerve too.

This would have been final week of a five-event swing to start the year and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.

I was supposed to team with Bob MacIntyre in a nine-hole Hero Challenge on Tuesday and had to withdraw as it just wasn’t possible.

I’m gutted as I was really looking forward to playing with Bob. I’m sure it would have been a lot of fun.

But the important part now is to make sure I rest properly, recover from this niggling injury and get back out on tour as soon as I’m able.

Hojgaard brothers have made an instant impact

Nicolai Hojgaard enhanced his growing reputation with victory at the weekend.

Sitting idle last week meant I was able to take in the drama which unfolded across the four days of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship.

I was rooting for Aberdeen’s David Law but he, like the rest of the field, was beaten by the better man in Nicolai Hojgaard.

David should not be too disappointed, however. He has had a decent start to 2022 and with three good weeks behind him he should be looking forward to the rest of the year with confidence.

For Hojgaard, that’s two wins under his belt already and he is still only 20. It’s not bad going at all for Hojgaard who, along with his twin brother Rasmus, now boast five titles between them.

I know this much, even though the Ryder Cup is not until 2023 the emergence of these bright young European talents is a welcome sight for whoever is appointed captain.

Major has to be the next target for Maguire

Talking of emerging talent in Europe, Leona Maguire has announced her arrival on the world stage with an excellent win at the Drive On Championship on the LPGA Tour at the weekend.

Maguire’s victory gives her the honour of being the first Irishwoman to win an LPGA Tour event and it’s no surprise.

Leona Maguire in action in the Solheim Cup.

She was outstanding in the Solheim Cup and her star has steadily been on the rise.

My former caddie Dermot Byrne is her bagman now and I know how highly he rates her.

Claiming a first major in the women’s game has to be her next target. For me, it’s only a matter of time before it happens.

Monster putt was incredible

For all the talk of the Saudi influence in golf at the moment it is not having a negative impact on the quality of the golf being played.

Harold Varner III won the Saudi International with an eagle putt at the last to beat Bubba Watson to the title but that does not come close to telling the story of an incredible finale.

It’s the fact Varner holed his tournament-winning eagle from 120 feet which is the incredible part.

I’ve played Royal Greens Golf Country Club which hosted the event and I know just how tough the 18th green is.

That’s why I’m so impressed with Varner’s putt.

I said a couple of weeks ago we had seen some fantastic shots already and an early candidate for shot of the year in 2022.

We might just have found our winner for putt of the year already too and we’re only into February.

If someone beats Varner’s effort it’ll be incredible.

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