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Gallacher says nephew must flourish in heat of Ryder Cup battle

Trying to follow in someone's footsteps can be a difficult business.

Anyone, for instance, who has attempted to mimic the moves of a cat as it tip-toes along narrow garden fences, zigzags past savage dogs and clambers up telegraph poles, will testify to that. For Stephen Gallacher, the Ryder Cup is the ultimate step, but it can be a path full of perils.

His uncle Bernard knows all about the biennial battle, of course. With eight appearances as a player and three as a captain, including a victorious captain's role in 1995, the 64-year-old Gallacher's career has become defined by it. As well as Eric Brown, the Ryder Cup captain in 1969 and 1971, Gallacher has ensured that Bathgate Golf Club will forever be associated with the Royal & Ancient game's greatest team tussle.

The nephew of Gallacher, meanwhile, has to deal with this weight of history and family fortune as he strives to emulate the Ryder Cup conquest of his Bathgate club-mates. With qualifying for the 2014 match at Gleneagles off and running, the 39-year-old is playing catch-up, but his wise uncle is confident the new year can bring new vigour.

"The thing about Bathgate is that it has such a strong history of the Ryder Cup with Eric and myself," said the elder Gallacher. "Stephen, having started at Bathgate, really wants to make the team. He's doing everything he can to make it, he's working hard on his game but so are a lot of people and he's just got to win his way on. There's no other way.

"It's pressure but it's good pressure because he'll want to improve. That kind of motivation is good for his game."

Gallacher won the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of last season and a return to that neck of the woods in January, as part of the European Tour's highly lucrative Middle East swing, could have a significant bearing on his Ryder Cup ambitions. At 34th on the European points list - the top four from which will qualify automatically - Gallacher needs to burst out of the blocks in 2014.

"Paul McGinley [the European captain] reckons it will take about €2m to qualify," noted Gallacher. "Thomas Bjorn has already earned more than a million, so he is well on the way, but it doesn't take long to get the momentum going.

"If you win one event, suddenly you are looking at making the team. So whatever position the Scots are in, if they can win a tournament in the first half of the year they are in the running because the money is so big. The Middle East events are important for Stephen.

"What was good for the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance was playing a lot more than practising, but everyone is different and you've got to work out what is right for your game. That means when you play you've got to play well and that's good pressure to have. There's no complacency then."

Uncle Bernard has spoken. Now his nephew has to up the ante.

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