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Back for a batter, and a word on Watson's dilemma

More than 40 years after he won the first of his five Scottish PGA Cham­pion­ship titles, Bernard Gallacher will make a cameo appearance on the Tartan Tour this season in the £60,000 Tomatin Homecoming Single Malt Pro-Am at Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch and Nairn.

Bernard Gallacher celebrates Europe's 1995 Ryder Cup win at Oak Hill CC in New York. Picture: Allsport

Now of a pensionable vintage, the 65-year-old, who is back in fine fettle after the cardiac arrest that nearly killed him, will "come out of a serious retirement" to support the richest event on the domestic circuit, which starts two days after September's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

"I've got six months to think up some excuses," said a chuckling Gallacher, who posted an 83 during his last competitive round on the European Senior Tour back in 2009. "I still play two or three times a week though, at home. I'm not keen on playing badly. I would give up if I was playing badly so that's what keeps me practising."

The Tomatin team event, which is in its third year and has filled the void left by the demise over a decade ago of a similar 54-holer at Carnoustie, continues to go from strength to strength and has attracted an international entry. The spin-offs generated by the Scottish Open's visits to the Highlands over the past three seasons have aided this buoyancy.

"Golf tourism in the area, year on year, is up by 20%," noted Fraser Cromarty, the chairman of the Highland Golf Links partnership.

Given that the tournament comes hard on the heels of the Ryder Cup, perhaps Tom Watson, the captain of the USA, will fancy an unwinding batter about in the Highlands? He is an honorary member at Royal Dornoch, after all. For the time being, the five-times Open champion has more pressing issues on his mind. The fitness of a certain Tiger Woods is one of them. Earlier this month, Watson seemed to indicate that he would hand the injured Woods a wildcard if he was simply fit and healthy. On Wednesday night, Watson changed his tune slightly and added that the world No.1 would have to be "playing well."

Gallacher can appreciate Watson's dilemma and knows about the relentless scrutiny that will surround the American veteran as the build up to the 2014 match gathers pace.

"I remember I guaranteed Nick Faldo a place in 1993," reflected the former European captain. "He couldn't have qualified through the European [ranking] system as he wasn't ­playing in enough tournaments to do that.

"He was the No.1 player at the time and I couldn't be bothered with having the press coming to me all the time and asking if I was going to pick Nick or not. That's why I came out and said, 'I'm definitely going to pick him'.

"Seve [Ballesteros], a big influence in those days, came up to me and said that was the wrong thing to do but I said, 'Seve, you really don't understand what the press are like in ­Britain'. I felt I should just get that issue out of the way so that we could talk about other things.

"I think it's becoming evident that Tiger's rehab is going to take longer than people think. He then has to put the practice in and get competitive again and that's why I think Tom has had a slight re-think just to cover himself."

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