Gallacher Heads Tartan Dozen At Irish Open Thanks To A Season Low Opener

Stephen Gallacher sent one of a dozen Tartan flags this week high up the board with a 67 on the opening day of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballymena.

Gallacher, 45 capped his round early with five birdies in seven holes on route to a three-under par tally and a share of fifth on the tough Galgorm Castle course.

South African Dean Burmester was out in the first group of the day racing to seven-under par after 12 holes only to double his 16th in a five-under par 65.

Burmester, 31 is out to make it three Springbok wins in a row on European soil after compatriots George Coetzee and Garrick Higgo captured the last two Portugal events.

Joining Burmester at the top was the England duo of Jorsdan Smith and Aaron Rai.

Stephen Gallacher posts a season opening round low with a 67 on day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Gallacher’s effort was the Bathgate golfer’s lowest opening round in a COVID-19 hit season and a ninth sub-70 in his 29 loops this year.

He said:  “I got off to a flier, holed a few putts and got it going though disappointed not to birdie 16 or 17 from the fairway but 67 is a good score out there.

“Even if I’d like to have taken advantage of a few opportunities from the fairway. It’s a great golf course here and a great resort all round. It’s a lovely track and I enjoyed it.

“We’ve got a big four weeks coming up for all of us and that’s why I came here so, these few weeks are going to require a lot of patience with the cold weather and I wanted to get my game in shape for an important run of tournaments.”

Gallacher is heading a strong field of a dozen Scots and that’s one more than the number of Emerald Isle golfers competing on the secondary Challenge Tour host venue.

One of the Irish is Open Champion, Shane Lowry and the highest ranked player by 35 places at World No. 30 in the Irish field but he struggled in posting a five-over 75.

Lowry said:  “I just struggled today. Myself and Bo (caddy) were talking going up the last, and I pretty much did everything really badly today, from course management to decision making to actually pulling off the shots.

“It was not very nice out there, but I gave it my best, that’s all I could have done, and it ended up in a 75”.

Aberdonian David Law and Glaswegian Scott Jamieson posted one-under par 69s and one fewer than Ewen Ferguson and Callum Hill.

Drumoig’s Connor Syme, who like Lowry contested last week’s U.S. Open, birdied his first and last holes and with three bogeys in between for a respectable 71.

And the young Scot walked from the course still on a high after teeing-up in a first major on U.S. soil.

He said: “It was a great experience and very much a longer and tougher version of Valderrama and tougher greens summed-up Winged Foot.

“It was great to go over there to tee-up and have the great experience of contesting a US Open, and clearly another step in my career.

“I didn’t play my best on the first day but it was a lot better in the second round, and it seems funny to say that when you have shot five-over as the game didn’t feel that far away.

“Clearly, not a great week not to play all four rounds but I still feel I am in a decent run of form from the end of the UK Swing and into this week here at Galgorm.

And while Syme would dearly have loved to have a week off this week after last week’s U.S. Open ordeal, and though the Scot played just two rounds, he’s not exempt into next week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

Currently Syme is 16 spots shy of the cut-off point for entries and will have to rely on either capturing the Irish Open, be the leading non-exempt among the top-10 finishes in Ireland or be handed one of sponsor invitations.

Syme said: “I would have liked to take this week off but because of my category I am not sure if I will qualify for the Scottish and BMW PGA, so I definitely needed to play this week.

“I love this golf course, having been over here to play last year’s Challenge Tour event, so I guess in that way the U.S. Open did impact my schedule in having to miss the Portugal Masters.

“Of course, it was a major last week and we all want to be playing the majors and I did get a bit of a rest over the weekend and back into this time-zone frame of mind, so I still feel good for this week.”

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