STEPHEN Gallacher maintained his fine form of this year with a joint 23rd place in the Open at St Andrews last week, sharing the slot with Tiger Woods, new US Open Champion Graeme McDowell and former Masters champion Trevor Immelman.
Exalted company to be keeping, indeed.
What a tough Championship it was as the elements buffeted every competitor at some point in the week, although not everybody suffered equally — those out on Thursday early had it easy compared to players scheduled for later that day, for example.
The next day there was a delay in proceedings because of the winds threatening to move balls on the greens and Stephen was one of those affected by the hold-up.
His round did not start till nearly five in the afternoon and he was left with the last few holes unplayed when a halt was called because of darkness.
This meant a 10pm return home to Linlithgow to be fed and watered, a couple of hours in bed, and back to St Andrews for a 6.30am start at the 14th.
Then there was the little matter of pulling it all together again for his third round several hours later.
Golfwise, it was an interesting week for the Kingsfield Golf Centre man. And as he looks at the statistics there will be things to learn from or even to question in his performance.
Stephen would be the last to say that his recent debilitating illness had anything to do with his couple of faltering finishes.
The fact remains, however, that for some reason he played the infamous Road Hole 17th in five over par in total.
He had a double bogey there on his last day and the 17th cost him a whopping five strokes in total. Without that, he would have finished eight under par which would have earned him a tie for third place.
And also taken into account should be four modest pars which were recorded at the 18th — there for the plundering for most of those around him and little more than a glorified par three for golfers of this standing — so there was ample scope for improvement.
The two par-fives on the course, usually the best opportunities for pros of world standing to massacre par, ended up with Stephen only one under the card over the four rounds.
Despite these four holes (16 in total over the whole tournament) the West Lothian man was only six strokes off second place at the end in the world’s biggest event.
And there was so much to be positive about. Consider the par three 11th one of the hardest tests on the course.
Can anybody have played it better than him? Two birdies and two pars when others were taking four or even five putts in the wind.
That he should have done some of the hard stuff so well must be galling when he looks over his whole performance.
This week Stephen is having a break from the Tour to attend a family wedding before heading to Ireland, lured by another handsome purse, at the end of the month.
He is now officially among the 100 best golfers on the planet with the next target the top 50 and that will come about automatically through a victory.
In the last month Gallacher has played alongside the winners of 16 majors.
He even partnered and outscored Masters champion Phil Mickelson in the final round at St Andrews.
All this suggests a return to glory may not be too far away.