Stephen Gallacher will make his 600th European Tour appearance at the Dubai Championship this week.
A permanent member of the Tour for 23 years, he becomes the 13th golfer to reach this stage, including fellow Scots Sam Torrance, Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie.
The 47-year-old has worked hard since entering as an amateur teenager at the 1993 Scottish Open, winning four titles and playing for the Ryder Cup winning side at home.
But he insists there are “not 600” as he aims for another century in the next four years before giving seniors a chance.
It is fitting that the historic event takes place in Dubai, a place that keeps fond memories, with back-to-back Desert Classic victories in 2013 and 2014.
He was fourth on his debut in 2000 and hasn’t missed the tournament since.
“This is the place that really put me on the map,” he told BBC Scotland. “That’s where I won my second title and then doing it again was huge.
“For the 25th anniversary in 2014, all of the past winners were there except Seve Ballesteros, God rest his soul. His son Javier came to play, which was lovely.
“I had the pleasure of teaming up with Tiger Woods and Fred Couples in the exhibition match. We had a blast. This special 18 hole is there for me.
“Then I played with Rory McIlroy, who was world number one, and Tiger in the first two rounds. I also played with Rory in the last round and winning was phenomenal for me.
“The whole family was there to see it. I took my son Jack out of school. It was a dream come true, competing with the best.”
Uncle Bernard’s advice & taming the Tiger
While Jack was allowed time off, Dad admits he was often guilty of taking classes to pursue his passion.
“I was four years old when I put a golf ball out the dining room window,” he said. “I always knew what my vocation would be.
“I wasn’t very academic at school. The teacher just needed to look outside and, if it was sunny, she knew I wasn’t going to be there.
“At the time there were truancy officers, but I got to know mine well because he was a member of the golf club, so at least he knew I didn’t have too many problems. .
“Coming from a family who played a lot of golf and were very successful, it certainly gave me a helping hand as well. “
Uncle Bernard can boast 10 victories on the European Tour and eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player, having served as captain of Europe three times.
“Coming up from Bathgate and seeing the pic of my uncle with Eric Brown in the middle of the clubhouse with their Ryder Cup clothes on was all the motivation I needed,” said Gallacher.
“I was thinking of turning professional when I was Scottish amateur champion in 1992, but my uncle said it was too soon.”
Gallacher won the Walker Cup in 1995 when Great Britain and Ireland knocked out a United States team that included a Mr. Woods.
The two men would turn professional the following year. Tiger had won eight of his 15 majors before the Scotsman claimed his first tournament victory at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2004.
“You are like a fish out of water going from hobbyist to pro and I tried to do too much and got a little lost,” said Gallacher. “I lost my card in 1996, I went back to the Tower School and got it back, then I lost it again.
“I spent a full year on the Challenge Tour and it was the best base you can get because it teaches you how to travel. You don’t want to stay there very long because you don’t make a lot of money and that you actually want to win to get by. “
Make a dream come true for the Ryder Cup
In 2009, sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease, forced Gallacher to take a break from golf.
“I was tired all the time, my hands were swollen and coughed all the time,” he explained. “It was a tough year but once I recovered I really started and had the 2014 Ryder Cup target. My only chance to play it in Scotland.
“I wrote down a list of all the things I needed to do and pretty much all the boxes were checked. I was sixth in a WGC, top 20 in a few majors, I came to the Masters. most consistent I have ever known. been. “
Captain’s pick for Gleneagles after narrowly missing an automatic berth, Gallacher was unable to contribute a point in two outings to Europe’s 16.5-11.5 triumph.
“I did my best,” he said. “Obviously I would have liked to play a little more, but it all depends on the team winning.
“It was one of the best weeks ever, just to be in the room with these guys and there was so much going on. Sir Alex Ferguson gave us a talk on how to avoid complacency and then said “You better win because I have 10,000 on you.
“It was 24 guys fighting with hammers and pliers, but then having a beer together.”
A “perfect day” in New Delhi
Gallacher’s most recent tournament victory came at the Indian Open 2019 and the success was made even sweeter with his son Jack in charge of carrying bags.
“My cart was gone and my dad suggested it,” he said. “I didn’t want to push Jack into the golf course but he was delighted.
“Of all my 600 events this Sunday was more special than anything. I had a quadruple bogey eight on the seventh hole but I said ‘we’re only five behind, we still have a chance here.’ From there I went under five to win per shot.
“Jack helped me with a tricky club selection in the 17th and winning with him there made it a perfect Mother’s Day – and Celtic beat Rangers too! It doesn’t get any better than that . “