The European Tour are “not rolling over and getting our tummy tickled” in the partnership that sees the Scottish Open get co-sanctioned status on the PGA Tour, believes Stephen Gallacher.
Tour chief executive Keith Pelley sounded out Gallacher as an elder statesman on tour as part of his discussions around the deal. It sees the Scottish gain a new sponsor in Genesis cars with the field shared 50-50 between the two tours.
In return, 50 European Tour players will have access to the Barbasol and Barracuda Championship events staged when the Scottish Open and Open Championship are being played, plus a cash influx into the Irish Open.
And Pelley has reassured Gallacher that Scots will continue to see a path into their home championship.
‘It’s an alliance with a great brand’
“It’s fantastic,” said Gallacher. “I think it’s an alliance with a great brand in the PGA Tour. To give opportunities for people who don’t get into the Scottish Open to play in America for two weeks.
“I think Keith Pelley and his team have done a great job. It’s great for the ecosystem of the European Tour and great for the business model as well.”
Gallacher pointed out that next year’s field for the Scottish could be groundbreaking after one of the best ever at the Renaissance Club last month.
“Everyone was waxing lyrically this year about the strength and depth of the field,” he said. “Next year I think Scottish golf will have something they’ve never seen at a European Tour event.
“The field will be phenomenal and that’ll roll on to the 150th Open at St Andrews. You have to take it as a positive that they decided to take on the Scottish Open, a flagship event for us.”
‘There will be a big Scottish contingent’
The European Tour and PGA TOUR announce first details of our Strategic Alliance.
Introducing…Genesis Scottish Open 👋🏆#GenesisScottishOpen
— Genesis Scottish Open (@ScottishOpen) August 3, 2021
Gallacher doesn’t expect there will be 17 Scots like at this week’s Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews, but believes it’ll get a strong respresentation.
“We’re not rolling over and getting our tummy tickled. Keith has worked hard on this. We’ve got 73 players, so there will be a big Scottish contingent as there has to be at a national Open.
“I don’t know how they’ll do it – maybe a qualifier like in times gone past. They’ll keep the Scottish core to keep the tournament what it is.”
Gallacher is heavily involved in player development now with his foundation, and he sees great days ahead for the Scots at the top level.
“We’ve got 17 guys here which is fantastic. It’s up against a WGC, but it gives people a chance to stake their claim on Tour. Hopefully they’ll stay here. It’s great to see so many Scots playing.
“Scottish golf is in a great place. Laird Shepherd, who won the amateur, is playing here before he plays the Masters and The Open next year. He was developed up here playing at Stirling Uni.”
‘It’s a spirtual home for all us Scots’
🏴 Hero Open (St, Andrews, Scotland)
🇺🇸 WGC – FedEx St. Jude (Memphis, USA)
Two events this week on the European Tour 👊 pic.twitter.com/LBVezDMGsk
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) August 3, 2021
And there is incentive aplenty this week for the Scots with St Andrews in spectacularly clear view across the bay.
“It’s the Home of Golf isn’t it?” added Gallacher. “We’re looking down on the old links over there.
“It’s a spiritual home for all us Scots to come to St Andrews, where it all started. To win here is special, I’ve managed to do it myself (at the Dunhill in 2004). But I’d love nothing more than to do it this week as well.”