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Mixed feelings for Gallacher after Ryder Cup debut

September 26, 2014

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — Stephen Gallacher was walking to the 17th tee to support Europe teammates Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia in a tense fourballs match at the Ryder Cup when a cry came from the packed gallery.

“C’mon, Stevie lad, keep your chin up,” a man said.

This was not the dream Ryder Cup debut on Friday that Gallacher envisaged.

It started with Gallacher — the only Scot in the European team at Gleneagles — receiving a rapturous early morning ovation on the first tee, with fans singing: “There’s only one Stevie G.”

“It was just euphoric, really,” he said.

It ended with him shaking hands with American rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed on the 14th green after slumping to a 5-and-4 loss with Ian Poulter, the supposed heartbeat of Paul McGinley’s team.

Gallacher never got going on a course he has played on more than 100 times. He made just one birdie, on No. 2.

“It’s your first Ryder Cup, obviously there’s a bit of excitement and a bit of not really knowing what to expect,” Gallacher said. “Took me maybe five or six holes to get into it. I was a bit out of rhythm.”

Gallacher said he did not feel any extra pressure playing the biggest round of his life, but there certainly looked some tension in his swing as he pushed his tee shot on No. 5 so far right that he landed next to the tee box on the sixth hole. Given a free drop, he whacked his second shot into a bed of reeds, responding by slamming his club down on the concrete road.

The backing for Gallacher from the Gleneagles galleries was unswerving but the form that helped him secure one of three captain’s picks, ahead of former world No. 1 Luke Donald, wasn’t there. Local knowledge didn’t seem to give him an advantage, nor did the advice given to him by his uncle Bernard — a three-time Europe captain and eight-time player in the Ryder Cup.

It didn’t help that Poulter, looking to win an eighth straight match at a Ryder Cup, hardly holed a putt all round. A pumped-up Poulter may have inspired Gallacher but the Englishmen’s missed putt from two feet on No. 1 set the tone for his round.

This was one English and Scottish union that may get broken up.

“I said to Stevie walking off the golf course today that when I played with Darren Clarke in 2004, we had our butts kicked the first time I ever played,” Poulter said, “and obviously we’ve had that today.

“But you know what, things can change very quickly, and we have to keep our heads up right now.”

Gallacher, like Poulter, was stood down for the afternoon foursomes but he said that was always McGinley’s plan.

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