Gallacher’s 1,425 day wait to defend Hero Indian Open

Bernie McGuire

Stephen Gallacher poses with the trophy and Pawan Munjal of HERO during the final round on day four of the Hero Indian Open in 2019 (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Stephen Gallacher’s record-setting 1,425 days wait to defend the Hero Indian Open ends this week in New Delhi.

It’s been that long and more, simply 36 days shy of four years since Gallacher captured a fourth DP World Tour success with then 17-year-old son Jack on the bag and calling the shots in the Indian capital.

Gallacher’s time as a defending champion, and aside from WW2, is probably the longest in the history of some of golf’s oldest national open titles, and with the Indian Open first staged in 1964 and won by Aussie great Peter Thomson.

In the event’s nearly four years absence, Gallacher has seen four birthdays, celebrated a 600th DP World Tour event and was recently named 2023 Junior Ryder Cup captain.

Disappointingly, also since his Hero Indian Open triumph Gallacher has managed just two top-20s in his ensuing 73 events with one of those being a T16th at the 2020 season-starting event in Abu Dhabi.

And after being handed a three-year exemption in winning in India, and this due to Covid lockdown measures, Gallacher forfeited automatic Tour membership at the end of last year for only a second time in 24-years, after finishing well down in 173rd place on the Race to Dubai money list.

As well, he was ranked 208th in the world in winning in India but returns currently outside the top-800.

Gallacher will take his place in this week’s $US2m event thanks to the ‘Former Champions’ category though that was overlooked at last month’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic before the double Dubai winner was afforded a late invitation into the tournament he captured back-to-back in 2013 and ’14.

It means teeing-up this week with just last month’s event in Dubai under his belt as the Tour heads into the 13th event of the wraparound 2022/23 schedule.

However, none of this has deterred the now 48-year-old and his son in returning to India.

Gallacher said: “It does seem ages since I won in India but it’s just a shame, as the Covid pandemic saw the world go into lockdown measures.

“The fact that it’s been nearly four years is just one of those things, and there’s nothing anyone could do, so you have to respect the reasons why the event wasn’t held.

“The good news was seeing the tournament back on this year’s schedule, so I’m looking forward to the week.

“Hero also has to be singled out for their continued support of the event, along  with their sponsorship of the Hero Cup early last month in Abu Dhabi and taking up sponsorship of the Dubai Desert Classic as they’re doing a great job in golf”.

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