Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher produced an excellent final nine holes to successfully defend the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. He finished a single shot clear of Emiliano Grillo of Argentina.
Gallacher took a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy into the final round. To do that, he had scorched home in Saturday’s third round, taking just 28 shots for the back nine.
But the Scot stumbled at the start of the final 18. He bogeyed the first two holes then dropped further shots at the 6th and 8th holes to limp to the turn in 39. At that point he was two shots off the top of the leaderboard.
The 39-year-old clearly enjoys the back nine of the Majlis Course, however, and he picked up birdies at the 11th, 13th, 16th and 17th holes to get back to level par and finish on 16-under-par.
That number was good enough for Gallacher to win the Dubai Desert Classic for a second straight season. He has become the first man to win the event in consecutive years and has moved into the top-40 on the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career. He is now likely to make a start in the U.S. Masters and the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
“I never do anything easy I’m afraid,” Gallacher said. “What a day – my emotions are gone. I just kept saying to myself, ‘stay patient’. I played the back nine well and no one was really running away with it at the time. To win it on the 25th anniversary, it was a good field with all the champions playing, makes it even more special.”
Rory McIlroy briefly took the lead when Gallacher bogeyed the 6th, but the Northern Irishman promptly gave it up after visiting the water on the 7th. He struggled for the remainder of the round and eventually posted a 74 to end the week in a disappointing tie for ninth.
It was Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo who finished as Gallacher’s closest challenger. He posted a great final round of 66 that ended somewhat fortuitously. His second shot to the par-5 18th clattered into the hospitality suites behind the green and rebounded onto the putting surface. He then holed from some 70 feet for an eagle three.
“The second shot went a little bit further than I wanted and got lucky, then I got lucky with the big putt, he said. “I am quite happy with how it went today. It was a good round overall. I left some putts out there but the one on the last gave me the ones I missed.”
American Brooks Koepka finished in a tie for third with Romain Wattel of France.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, UAE
Jan 30 – Feb 2, purse €1,850,000, par 72
1 Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 66 71 63 72 272 €303,268
2 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 71 67 69 66 273 €202,176
T3 Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 65 70 70 274 €102,446
T3 Romain Wattel (Fra) 68 73 67 66 274 €102,446
T5 Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 69 72 70 64 275 €60,230
T5 Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 71 68 65 71 275 €60,230
T5 Robert Rock (Eng) 67 70 68 70 275 €60,230
T5 Steve Webster (Eng) 71 70 64 70 275 €60,230
T9 Paul Casey (Eng) 70 72 67 67 276 €35,483
T9 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 63 70 69 74 276 €35,483
T9 Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 65 72 68 71 276 €35,483
T9 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 70 70 68 68 276 €35,483
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
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