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Bernard Gallacher
Bernard Gallacher believes the scores will be low at St. Andrews unless the weather really interferes. (Getty Images)

European player will win Open, Gallacher believes

Golf in Europe has entered a new era, says former European Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher, and a European will take home the Claret Jug this week. Older players, however, will struggle to contend, he thinks.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (PA) -- Three-time Ryder Cup skipper Bernard Gallacher fully expects a European to win this week's Open at St. Andrews.

The United States has dominated the tournament since John Daly tasted success at the home of golf 15 years ago. Stewart Cink ended Padraig Harrrington's hat trick bid last year when he became the 11th American to lift the Claret Jug since 1995 by defeating veteran Tom Watson in a playoff at Turnberry.

However, European players are enjoying a great year and now make up half of the world's top 20 positions after Edoardo Molinari moved up to 19th place following his triumph at the Barclays Scottish Open.

Graeme McDowell secured his first major success by clinching the U.S. Open last month, Ian Poulter won the WGC-Accenture Matchplay Championship in February, Rory McIlroy claimed glory at the Quail Hollow Championship and Justin Rose has won two of his last three tournaments in the USA. And with Lee Westwood enjoying success on both sides of the water in the last two years, Gallacher believes a new dawn is emerging for Europe's elite.

"I think this is a new era. We had it in the 1980s and I think we're reaching out to another golden era led by Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion,” Gallacher said. "Graeme McDowell's victory at the U.S. Open will inspire this generation. But there are so many players. I will be very disappointed if Lee Westwood doesn't win a major this year.

"Ian Poulter won the World Match Play and of course Rory has been doing so well. There's also Justin Rose. Paul Casey hasn't won a major yet but he'll be knocking on the door and it's only a matter of time before Sergio Garcia gets his game back,” he added. "I don't want to say who will win it but I think it will be a European."

Tiger Woods has won the Open on the last two occasions the event was staged at St. Andrews, but Gallacher reckons the world No. 1 won’t be a contender on Sunday. Woods has been plagued by scandal since details emerged about his private life and Gallacher is certain the 14-time major is still troubled by the upheaval.

"I don't think Woods will win it,” he said. “What's been happening off the course is affecting what's been happening on it. He'll only be challenging for majors again once he's settled in his private life."

The last two Opens have been dominated by veterans of the game -- namely Greg Norman and Watson. Norman finished in a tie for third in 2008 despite not having played in a major for three years, while Watson, at 59 years of age, went close to winning his sixth Open last year.

However, Gallacher, who steered Europe to victory at the 1995 Ryder Cup, thinks the chances of the oldies performing well again are remote.

"I think it will be unlikely as the scoring will be so low," said Gallacher. "The course will be so much more demanding and of course they're just getting so much longer.  It's not a shotmaker's course like when Watson did so well and it seems every course has to get longer these days -- that's why they've dragged the 17th back 30 yards."
 

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