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Gallacher's final Masters preparations will be just champion

Stephen Gallacher has already arranged a practice round with his fellow Scot Sandy Lyle, the former Masters champion, and hopes to book another with the two-time Augusta winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

Gallacher earned his place at the season's first major with the best finish he has achieved to date at a tournament in the United States, joint sixth place in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the weekend.

The 39-year-old arrived home in Bathgate having climbed two places to No.37 in the world rankings and assured of a first Augusta appearance. He is also up to eighth in the Ryder Cup points table and among the nine who will qualify automatically for a slot in Europe's team for Gleneagles.

Gallacher will have to wait until the Sunday before the Masters for formal confirmation of his place but his Bounce Sport management team have already booked Augusta accommodation for him and his family.

It will be only his 13th start in a major since he made his debut at the game's highest level as an amateur in the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews.

Gallacher will thus achieve a career goal of having played in all four majors when he joins Lyle, winner of the 1988 Masters, in the field for this year's tournament on April 10.

"I spoke to Sandy at the Scottish Golf Awards dinner in Glasgow and we've been in contact since, so I'll head out to Augusta on the Friday before the start of the Masters and play a round with Sandy on the Saturday," Gallacher said.

"I watched Sandy winning the 1988 Masters on TV and, while he's remembered for that great shot from the bunker at 18, I can recall virtually every shot he played that last day.

"It will be great playing my first practice round with him. I am also trying to get in touch with Jose Maria to play a round with him. There can be no better introduction to Augusta than playing alongside past champions."

Gallacher, whose "golf-mad" son, Jack, 12, will caddie for him in the Par 3 Contest on the eve of the Masters, may have boosted by his best showing in the US in some 13 events, but he indicated he will not be tempted to try to play in the States more often.

"These three events, the two WGCs and last week's Honda Classic, have been great experience," he said. "I played on three tough courses but I liked it. The Honda Classic was my first PGA Tour event and it was only my second time playing both the Matchplay and the Cadillac.

"It's been a great experience but I don't want to play in the States full time. My kids, Jack and Ellie, are still at school and I would not want to be away from them for long periods.

"It would suit me more just to play around the three majors over here and the events like the Honda Classic held in between the two WGCs."

Gallacher's strong showing in ­Florida came as his fellow Scot Sam Torrance was named as one of Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup vice-captains.

"Sam and Des [Smyth] are good friends of Paul and will be brilliant for the team," Gallacher said. "I don't think Sam's appointment is any sort of inspiration for Scottish players trying to qualify for the team, though; it's simply that he's the best man for the job."

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