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Gallacher storms to Dubai Desert Classic title

posted on 04/02/2013: 2085 views



Stephen Gallacher ended eight years of frustration in spectacular style when he won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic with an array of dazzling shots today.

The 38-year-old Scotsman lost his overnight three-shot advantage within two holes on a tough, windy day at the Emirates Golf Club, but he fought tooth and nail and a one-under par 71 was enough to give him his second European Tour title by three shots.

Gallacher holed out his second shot with a wedge from 115 yards on the par-4 16th hole for his fifth eagle of the week, and that proved to be the killer blow for the only person who had a chance to deny him, South African Richard Sterne.

The win came after a wait of 201 tournaments (his maiden victory was 2004 Dunhill Links Championship) and is expected to lift him from 111th in the world to somewhere in the vicinity of 60 when the new rankings are released tomorrow.

"I'm drained to be honest,” said Gallacher after tallying 22-under par 266, matching Thomas Bjorn's lowest winning total in the history of the tournament. "I knew it was going to be a tough day when I saw the wind in the morning, and you had to control your ball flight a bit more than the other days. I didn't really play that well but kind of hung in, which you had to do.

"At the turn, I knew it was pretty much me and Richie, kind of matchplay situation. So, it was a tough day. Took a lot of concentration, anyway.”

Gallacher started the day three ahead of Sterne, but that advantage was lost when he made bogeys on his first two holes, and the South African birdied the second.

The 16th wasn't the only magic shot he played yesterday. The most important shot has to be his second from the right rough on the par-4 ninth. He had just made a bogey on the eighth and with just the smallest of opening between the trees, and the gaping water on the left of the green, he would have been happy to escape with a bogey from that position.

Instead, he hit what he called a "one-in-a-hundred shot” - a peach of a 5-iron, below the first tree and then above the second and also impart a cut shot, to two feet for an unlikely birdie to get back to even terms with Sterne at 20-under par.

Then, on the par-5 10th, he knocked in a curling par putt from 20 feet to remain in touch with Sterne. The 165th ranked South African then made a brace of bogeys twice, and it was all over when Gallacher holed his second shot on the 16th.

Gallacher made five eagles during the week including the 16th and said: "That was the third shot I've holed and then the bunker shot on the last yesterday, as well, which is bizarre, but unfortunately, you've got to do that these days to win out here.

"It's so tough to win and you've got to shoot in the 20s, you have to do something special, eagles and stuff. It was just my week.”

The win opens various doors for Gallacher, including a possible place in the WGC-Accenture Match Play if he stays inside the top-64 by third week of February, and a chance to play his first Masters if sneaks into the top-50 by the end of March.

But the nephew of Europe's Ryder Cup winning captain, Bernard, he is intent on making it to Gleaneagles next year in European colours.

"I'm actually on target because my goal was to try to get in the top-50 when the Ryder Cup points start, because I don't think you've got a chance of getting in the Ryder Cup team if you're not in the top-50,” said Gallacher.

"And with the next one being in Scotland and I don't think it's going to be back there in my generation, and given the family connections, that would be the ultimate for me.

"But it was brilliant to win again, just for personal reasons, just to know that I can do it.” - Sport 360°

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