Gallacher earns call up for his maiden Masters

3/31/2014 12:00:00 AM
Stephen Gallacher  (Getty Images)
Stephen Gallacher (Getty Images)

Stephen Gallacher was the 36th European Tour Member to secure his place at next week’s Masters Tournament after the field was finalised on Sunday.

Gallacher, one of five European Tour debutants in action at Augusta National, ensured his starting berth through his place in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The World Number 37 had all but guaranteed a maiden trip to Georgia with his victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, but had to wait until Sunday night’s deadline for final confirmation of his invitation to the first Major Championship of the season.

The Scot will be joined at Augusta by his fellow rookies Jonas Blixt of Sweden and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge, as well as Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Dutchman Joost Luiten – both of whom, like Gallacher, played their part in Europe’s thrilling 10-10 draw with Asia in last week’s inaugural EurAsia Cup. 

At the other end of the experience spectrum, 15 of the 36 European Tour Members teeing up have sampled Major success, with eight of those having done so at the Masters.

The most recent recipient of the coveted Green Jacket was Charl Schwartzel, who in 2011 produced one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the Masters when he closed with four birdies to usurp the Australian duo of Jason Day and Adam Scott.

Scott gained a measure of revenge last year when he became the first Australian to win the Masters, and the 33 year old from Adelaide is well fancied to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to retain the Green Jacket.   

Scott is currently third favourite for the title, with only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ahead of him in the betting.

McIlroy, of course, will again be desperate to banish any lingering memories of his Augusta agony in 2011, when he held a four-shot lead after the third round before suffering a final day collapse.

After a relatively fallow season by his extraordinarily high standards last term, McIlroy has shown glimpses of his best form in the early part of the current campaign, with consecutive top ten finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on The European Tour followed by his runner-up finish in the Honda Classic on the US PGA Tour, where he lost out in a play-off to American Russell Henley.      

Other leading contenders from European shores include World Number Three Henrik Stenson of Sweden, World Number Six Justin Rose of England and World Number Eight Sergio Garcia of Spain. 

The 36 European Tour Members who will tee up at Augusta are: Thomas Björn, Jonas Blixt, Angel Cabrera, Darren Clarke, Brendon de Jonge, Luke Donald, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher, Joost Luiten, Sandy Lyle, David Lynn, Matteo Manassero, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, José María Olazábal, Thorbjørn Olesen, Ernie Els, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Sergio Garcia, Branden Grace, Peter Hanson, Trevor Immelman, Thongchai Jaidee, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Martin Kaymer, Bernhard Langer, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Ian Woosnam. 

The winner of this week’s Shell Houston Open on the US PGA Tour will also secure a late entry to the Masters, meaning the likes of Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington have one last chance to join their fellow European Tour champions at Augusta.