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Golf: Gallacher pleads Faldo's Ryder case

THE RYDER CUP winning captain Bernard Gallacher has urged the new man in charge, Mark James, to give Nick Faldo as long as possible to make this year's event.

Gallacher, who captained Europe on three occasions, winning it finally in 1995 after two defeats, believes Faldo should be given right up to the deadline to prove he can help the team retain the trophy. The six- times Major winner has had a wretched two years, missing cuts at the Masters and US Open.

However, Gallacher said: "If Nick even senses that he may be coming back into some kind of form, then I would take him. The experience he has would be invaluable for the team, but he has to feel that he is getting his form back. He doesn't need to come into form until September and he should be given as long as possible so that he can judge it for himself."

Gallacher guided Europe to victory at Oak Hill in 1995 and knows how Faldo reacts when this particular trophy is on offer. "He will rise to the occasion no matter how he is playing and, as long as he is somewhere near form, he would be one of my wild cards," added Gallacher. "The Ryder Cup puts form to the side and Nick is someone who responds to the situation the event places on you."

In the Amateur Championship at Royal County Down yesterday the teenager Trevor Immelman, runner-up in 1997 at Royal St George's, took the first step to going one better in this year's tournament. The 19-year-old South African ousted Australia's Scott Gardiner 3 and 1 in their first-round tie after going one down with only seven to play.

Immelman played in this year's US Masters and showed the class yesterday which saw him complete all four rounds at Augusta in April.