The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship has been the late-arriving cavalry for Scottish European Tour professionals so often in the past, but only Stephen Gallacher left St Andrews with safety secured on Sunday night.
Gallacher had a final round 75 in the difficult conditions to drop back from third position overnight to a tie for tenth, but the sizeable cheque has finally taken him comfortably away from the dreaded cut-off mark and even within sight of getting to the season-ending beanfeast in Dubai if he can carry on improved form.
“It was a tough day and very cold, and I just hit a few in the bunkers, which you can’t do around here,” said Gallacher. “I was six back at the turn and I didn’t think I was really in it, and then hit in the bunker at ten and had to come out backwards, that was me done, really.”
The frustrations are still coming on, and some pieces of hardware in Gallacher’s collection might pay the consequences.
“It’s been a good week, but just my putting is still absolutely horrendous,” he said. “I think I had nine three-putts on the week, so I feel I’ve played so much better than my score.
“I will go see (putting guru) Phil Kenyon on Thursday, maybe break a few putters, try to get something else to work!
“I’m hitting the ball really well, probably as well as I have for years and years, but I’m just not scoring.
“I’m out at two under today, which is six under for my last 27 holes – and feeling like I’ve left shots out there. And they come back to bite you over 72 holes. Then you hit a few bad ones and get penalised.
“At least I know what I need to do, if I want to keep getting into this position. I’ll be doing that the next couple of weeks.”
Gallacher can at least play the British Masters at Walton Heath next week – “I love that course, it plays a lot like links” and opt to miss the Valderrama tournament the week after because he’s all but safe.
But no other Scots made the cut at the Dunhill, meaning that apart from Russell Knox – who rolled into the European Tour for a month back in July, reaped €2.4 million, and went back to the USA – only Gallacher and his good friend Paul Lawrie are safe from Q School.
Lawrie, thanks to career earnings, will be able to restart once he has recovered from ankle surgery in the New Year. But Scott Jamieson is on the cusp at 107th in the Race to Dubai rankings (110 qualify for cards in 2019), David Drysdale is 111th, Connor Syme 123rd, and Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren and Bradley Neil even further adrift.
Syme and Neil are rookies and are still finding their feet in professional golf. But Scotland could lose four experienced tour professionals – three of them title winners – in one year unless they can make up ground in the final weeks of the season.