Tiger-tamers Gallacher and Webster still seek big prize

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The Independent Online

Ever since beating Tiger Woods in 1995 - one at the Walker Cup, the other at the Open - Stephen Gallacher and Steve Webster have lived with the fact that much is expected of them in their European tour careers.

Ever since beating Tiger Woods in 1995 - one at the Walker Cup, the other at the Open - Stephen Gallacher and Steve Webster have lived with the fact that much is expected of them in their European tour careers.

To date, the 29-year-olds have played a combined 407 events and not once tasted victory. But that could change - for only one of them, obviously - at the Irish Open this weekend.

Paired together for the opening two rounds at County Louth, Gallacher has reached halfway in the tournament on eight under par while Webster was on seven under.

"You try not to think about it," said Gallacher when the inevitable question arose about his long wait for a title. "You try to get on with it and hopefully learn from all the experiences. I feel I have the game now, which is half the battle. I've a bit more self-belief and I've become a bit more consistent not just in the way I play, but the way I think."

Better known as the nephew of the former Ryder Cup captain, Bernard, and cousin of television presenter Kirsty, Gallacher is already enjoying the best season of his career. The former Scottish amateur champion is 28th on the Order of Merit with nearly £280,000 and had his second runners-up finish at the Seville Open in April. The other came at the Great North Open at Slaley Hall near Newcastle three years ago.

Webster, from Warwickshire, was the leading amateur in the Open at St Andrews nine years ago, his 24th place being 42 better than Woods. But while the American captured two of his first seven events as a professional, Webster is in his 228th start. Few would have believed he would still have been waiting when he won the tour qualifying school at his first visit, but he had to go back the following year and since then has had no fewer than five second places.

He lost a play-off to Retief Goosen in the 2001 Madrid Open and just missed out again at the South African Open in January when the defending champion, Trevor Immelman, beat him by three.

Both Gallacher and Webster scored two-under-par 70s in the more testing wind, with Webster saying: "We pulled each other along. Stephen knows it the same as I do that we should have won by now, but all you can do is keep trying to put yourself in position."

Pre-tournament favourites Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington were among those trying to catch them. Clarke was among the later starters and stood three under after nine holes, while Harrington's second successive 70 left him four behind Gallacher.

Alongside Gallacher in second place was South African James Kingston, who had four holes to go, while Webster was joined in the clubhouse on seven under by Australian Brett Rumford and France's Raphael Jacquelin.

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