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Captain's role second best for Gallacher

EArning a lifetime achievement award provides the opportunity for nostalgia and reflection on the good old days.

Bernard Gallacher received a Lifetime Achievement honour at last night's awards. Picture: Getty Images
Bernard Gallacher received a Lifetime Achievement honour at last night's awards. Picture: Getty Images

It's also a chance to mull over things that could have been done differently.

When Paul Lawrie revealed his dilemma over whether to play in a European Tour event in Morocco to bolster his Ryder Cup qualifying bid or to go and watch Aberdeen in the League Cup final instead, Bernard Gallacher felt an immediate empathy.

Lawrie has since opted to give golf the boot in favour of the fitba'. Back in 1972, Gallacher was left agonising over a similar decision when his beloved Hibernian had silverware in their sights.

"Looking back, I think I would have done the same as Paul," said Gallacher, who was in Glasgow last night to receive a Lifetime Achievement honour at the Scottish Golf Awards. "I followed Hibs all the time and the only time they looked like winning something was the League Cup in 1972.

"That final was up against the Moroccan Open as well. I chose to go and I wish I hadn't because Hibs ended up beating Celtic 2-1. I didn't ever see them win anything. I wasn't keen on going to Morocco because the year before there had been a coup when the king was put in jail and a couple of tourists were shot dead on the beach.

"I can empathise with Paul on this. Why shouldn't he go, it's a big moment for his team. It will certainly do him some good if they win."

Looking as fit as a buffed-up fiddle after the heart attack that nearly killed him last September, Gallacher is certainly not lacking in gallows humour. "After that heart scare I think they've said, 'we'd better do this quickly'," he said upon receiving his lifetime accolade. In a sporting life that has been defined by the Ryder Cup, Europe's winning captain from 1995 has his own, personal defining moment.

"Winning my first pro tournament was the highlight for me," he said, referring to his Schweppes PGA victory at Ashburnham in 1969. "People say the Ryder Cup captaincy must have been the greatest achievement but when you turn pro you never know if you are good enough, so when you eventually win, that is the moment that stands out.

"That beats the Ryder Cup because it's all about playing. If you asked me if you would rather be a player in the Ryder Cup or captain, I would say a player. Being captain is a nice honour at the end of your career but competing in that team is a bigger honour, whatever Monty says."

On a glitzy night of clinking glasses, Catriona Matthew received a highly deserved Player of the Year award for her exploits in the women's game in 2013 when she was pipped to a second major title in a play-off and claimed the winning point for Europe in the Solheim Cup.

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