Those of you who have seen Miguel Angel Jimenez’s warm-up routine, which includes the kind of jaw-dropping stretches, bends and contortions cut from the Kama Sutra, will appreciate just how far golfers will go to increase their competitive longevity.
“I’d love to make more than 700 appearances on tour and give Jimenez a run for his money,” Stephen Gallacher said of the Spanish veteran, who has made a record 707 appearances on the European Tour. “If I have to do his stretches, then fair enough. I’d also like to take on his red wine.”
At 46, Gallacher isn’t quite ready for the Senior Tour, but he is one of the elder statesmen on the main European scene. The advancing years haven’t diminished his ambitions, however. “I want to be out here into my 50s,” added the Ryder Cup Scot.
“I’d like to keep going for another four or five years. Right now I’m at 582 events and 600 is a milestone I’d like to reach in 2021. Next season will also be my 25th year on Tour, so it’s all very nicely set up. Another win would be brilliant, of course.”
With renewed optimism, energy and enthusiasm, Gallacher is looking ahead. The sooner the bells ring to ring in a new year, the better, because 2020 was a woeful year for the three-time Tour champion, with terrible personal grief.
“It was s***e, one of those you just want to forget,” he said. “It started with losing one of my best buddies, then another one of my great friends lost his father, another friend’s wife died suddenly, and of course I lost my own father.
“All of that happened within four months. It was very hard to take and difficult to motivate yourself to play golf after that.”
The father of Gallacher, Jim, the younger brother of the great Bernard of the Ryder Cup, was only 67 when he died this summer. It was a sudden, cruel loss of a well-known man steeped in golf and mightily proud of the achievements of his son. “Whenever I was at a tournament, he would praise the good shots and reprimand the bad ones,” Gallacher reflected on the man he called his No. 1 fan and No. 1 critic.
“Sometimes you got a little mad at him when he criticized, but in the cold light of day you thought, ‘Maybe he was right? ‘ Maybe his timing could have been better sometimes. But I think that’s a father’s privilege. They’re allowed to do that.
“I used to call him when I was good. When I wasn’t doing so well, I might have avoided calling him because I knew I’d get in a little trouble. But he was always like that. He was a big part of my career.
“I played in the shadow of my uncle Bernard for a long time, and that was tough. Because of the name, you always get a lot of articles and coverage. I had to deal with the pressure that brings.
“When you’re young, maybe you try too hard to please people and be good. At some point, there comes a point where you just have to trust in your own abilities and keep going. When you realize that, then you can get ahead in the game and start winning things.
“My father, of course, had seen Uncle Bernard’s success and wanted me to succeed as well. He wasn’t hard on me, but he told me when I did something wrong. No one was as proud of my success as he was.”
From boys’ Scottish Strokeplay Champion to men’s Scottish Amateur Champion and Walker Cup participant to European Tour winner and Ryder Cup player, Gallacher has certainly made his family proud with his various golfing successes. His efforts off the golf course, through his own foundation, have underscored his generosity of spirit and broader sense of duty and awareness.
This weekend, Gallacher’s foundation will host an online drawing to raise money for two charities – Aberlour Child Care Trust and River Kids in West Lothian – with memorabilia donated by the great and good of Scottish sport and beyond.
“As bad as my year has been, there are people much worse off than us,” he said. “I’d love to break the £20,000 mark so that the two charities can each receive a five-figure sum. You have to offer something back when you’re in a place as lucky as I am.
Gallacher wants to get back to what he is doing best in 2021.
During this year, I can draw a line and pass on to mac