Gallacher wins the Dubai Desert Classic... again
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher struck a final round 72 to clinch the $2.5 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday as he overcame a nightmare start to become the first player to retain the coffee pot trophy.
Gallacher, whose Dubai win 12 months ago was his first title in nearly a decade, skittered four bogeys on the front nine holes, but clawed back four shots after the turn in a gritty display to end on 272.
Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (66) sunk a 60-foot eagle putt on the 18th for 273, while France's Romain Wattel (66) and Brooks Koepka (70) of the United States were tied on 274.
Gallacher, 39, began the day two shots clear of world number six Rory McIlroy and most of the 8,500 crowd must have anticipated a classic duel between the wily veteran and golf's great young hope.
But both players faltered on an overcast Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club, although that made for a thrilling finale as four different players - Gallacher, McIlroy, Koepka and Grillo - claimed outright leadership at some stage, while England's Robert Rock and Finland's Mikko Ilonen also shared top spot.
"I was quite fortunate no-one had run away with it," Gallacher said in a television interview.
"Then, after I holed the 11th I thought 'I'm level with seven to play' and I would have taken that at the start."
Gallacher, the world number 67, hit his first two drives into the rough to begin with successive bogeys and gift playing partner McIlroy the lead.
Yet the Northern Irishman failed to capitalise. He slugged his tee shot at the par-three seventh into the water for a bogey and dropped three further shots between holes 10 and 13, dooming his hopes of ending a 14-month title drought on the European Tour.
Gallacher, in contrast, was a man transformed after the turn, where a day earlier he had equalled a European Tour record with nine-under-par on the back nine.
"I think yesterday was the key - Saturday is when you're trying to get into contention, to get a lead," said Gallacher, who will now likely break into the world top 40 after his win.
He did not quite reach the same heights on Sunday, but a chip from the rough on the 17th provided a one-foot birdie chance he duly converted to reclaim the outright lead, making par on the 18th with a nerveless three-foot putt to seal the title.
The title defence was something that other former winners such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Seve Ballesteros were unable to accomplish and it revived Gallacher's hopes of playing in the Ryder Cup in Scotland in September.
"It took everything I had after the poor front nine, but I just tried to build on yesterday (63) and stay patient," he said after being presented the famous claret jug by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.
"I was quite fortunate that no-one ran away with it and I just tried to hit every shot at a time, just like yesterday.
"I knew a five was going to win it and it's the only time that I've hit a back spin like that all week and it's nearly gone in the water.
"But yesterday was the key - to be 10 under through 10 holes.
"I wish I could play this course every week."
Grillo was solo in second for the biggest prize of his fledging career so far with France's Romain Wattel and Brooks Koepka of the United States a further stroke back on 14 under after a 66 and 70 respectively.
Tournament favourite Rory McIlroy endured a torrid final day and could only manage a 74 and a tie for ninth.
Woods, meanwhile, finished with a flourish, birdieing his final three holes for a closing 71.
But he was already, at the start of the day, too far behind to have any say in the proceedings as he left Dubai tied for 41st and still looking to kick his 2014 season into full gear.
"Unfortunately I turned it around too late," he commented.
"My iron game wasn't as sharp as I'd like, I had seven lip-outs today," Woods told reporters.
"I'm definitely going to work on my putting. My light putting needs to be better than it has been... I'm hitting my lines, I just don't have the speed right."
Woods began brightly in Dubai, racing to four-under after nine holes of Thursday's first round, seemingly showing few ill effects from a dire showing at California's Torrey Pines a few days earlier where he carded 79, the second-worst round of his professional career.
Yet wayward driving and then inconsistent putting saw the American make 10 birdies and eight bogeys over Dubai's final 63 holes as he slipped out of contention.
"I made a quick easy fix to my grip the other day and from then on I drove great," said Woods, who will now fly to Delhi for an exhibition event, his first visit to India, before returning the United States.
"I throttled back a little bit to try to get my ball back in play and just didn't hit it as far. I'm able now to start letting it go - a couple of carries out there were in the 310-315 (yards) range. That's back to where I should be."
Scores from the European Tour Dubai Desert Classic at the par-72 course on Sunday in Dubai
272 Stephen Gallacher (Britain) 66 71 63 72
273 Emiliano Grillo (Argentina) 71 67 69 66
274 Brooks Koepka (U.S.) 69 65 70 70
Romain Wattel (France) 68 73 67 66
275 Steve Webster (Britain) 71 70 64 70
Mikko Ilonen (Finland) 69 72 70 64
Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark) 71 68 65 71
Robert Rock (Britain) 67 70 68 70
276 Paul Casey (Britain) 70 72 67 67
Edoardo Molinari (Italy) 65 72 68 71
Bernd Wiesberger (Austria) 70 70 68 68
Rory McIlroy (Britain) 63 70 69 74
277 Paul Waring (Britain) 70 70 68 69
Darren Fichardt (South Africa) 69 72 66 70
Danny Willett (Britain) 71 65 73 68
Soren Hansen (Denmark) 67 71 71 68
Francesco Molinari (Italy) 69 69 71 68
Brett Rumford (Australia) 69 70 71 67
Thomas Bjorn (Denmark) 72 70 68 67
278 Damien McGrane (Ireland) 66 70 71 71
Simon Dyson (Britain) 69 69 73 67
Jamie Donaldson (Britain) 69 68 70 71
279 Roope Kakko (Finland) 69 69 68 73
Anthony Wall (Britain) 74 66 69 70
Jorge Campillo (Spain) 68 72 70 69
Morten Madsen (Denmark) 71 67 72 69
Joost Luiten (Netherlands) 70 69 70 70
Chris Wood (Britain) 73 69 70 67
280 Seve Benson (Britain) 72 70 70 68
Scott Hend (Australia) 69 72 70 69
Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 70 67 75 68
Kristoffer Broberg (Sweden) 71 69 73 67
Dawie Van der Walt (South Africa) 72 70 65 73
Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) 72 70 70 68
Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 68 71 71 70
Eduardo De La Riva (Spain) 70 70 72 68
281 Marcel Siem (Germany) 72 67 73 69
Hennie Otto (South Africa) 68 73 69 71
Kim Si-Hwan (South Korea) 70 69 72 70
Robert Karlsson (Sweden) 73 67 71 70
282 Chris Doak (Britain) 71 68 71 72
Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) 74 68 69 71
Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand) 68 69 71 74
Matthew Baldwin (Britain) 66 74 69 73
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain) 71 69 71 71
Tiger Woods (U.S.) 68 73 70 71
Gary Stal (France) 74 68 73 67
283 Julien Quesne (France) 66 70 77 70
Colin Montgomerie (Britain) 70 70 69 74
Shiv Kapur (India) 72 70 70 71
Noh Seung-Yul (South Korea) 69 72 71 71
Marco Crespi (Italy) 69 71 69 74
Scott Jamieson (Britain) 73 69 70 71
284 Jaco Van Zyl (South Africa) 71 68 71 74
Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 74 67 74 69
Maximilian Kieffer (Germany) 71 70 71 72
Gregory Havret (France) 70 72 72 70
Magnus Carlsson (Sweden) 69 69 74 72
Alvaro Quiros (Spain) 69 72 74 69
Gregory Bourdy (France) 71 68 73 72
Fred Couples (U.S.) 70 71 73 70
Richard Sterne (South Africa) 66 73 69 76
Michael Hoey (Britain) 70 72 73 69
Paul Lawrie (Britain) 68 71 72 73
286 Justin Walters (South Africa) 69 68 75 74
Raphael Jacquelin (France) 69 71 69 77
287 Alexander Levy (France) 69 72 76 70
Lee Slattery (Britain) 70 71 70 76
Carlos Del Moral (Spain) 70 72 73 72
289 Jose-Filipe Lima (Portugal) 71 71 75 72
291 Tom Lewis (Britain) 71 69 78 73
Stephen Gallacher held his nerve to par the 18th to create history and become the first player to retain the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in its 25th anniversary at the Majlis Course of Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.
Gallacher won by one shot after firing four birdies in the back nine to offset four bogeys in the front nine to finish on 16 under.
Gallacher's level par 72 was just enough for the 39 year-old the Scot to retain the title holding off a late surge from Emiliano Grillo of Argentina who finished on 15 under with a final round of 66.
Rising American star Koepka Brooks (70) had to settle for a tie for third with Frenchman Romain Wattel who fired a 66 to finish on 14 under.
Former world number one Rory McIlroy finished in a tie for ninth with a round of 74 mixing two birdies with four bogeys.
Gallacher sinks a tap-in birdie at the 17th after a superb second shot fron the fringe to take the outright lead from early clubhouse leader Grillo at 16 under.
Koepke keep alive his hopes two-putting the 17th for a birdie to be just one behind the leading duo.
Gallacher wrests back the advantage by rolling a birdie putt from about eight feet on the 16th to tie with Grillo at 15 under to set up a dramatic finale.
Emiliano Grillo sets up a grandstand finish with a stunning eagle in the 18th to soar into the lead at 15 under to take the outright lead with a round of 66.
The 21 year-old first eagle of the weekend saw him go past Wattel and Gallacher and could turn out to be the shot of the tournament.
The Argentine’s second to the 18th was long but he rebounded to finish 40 feet from the hole and holing it for a round of 66.
Romain Wattel joins Gallacher at 14 under finishing two consecutive birdies to take the clubhouse lead with a round of 66.
Gallacher is back in front as outright leader after a birdie on the 13th, his second in three holes to enjoy a one-shot lead over a pack of five players.
McIlroy has slipped out of the radar after his fourth bogey of the day to slip three behind Gallacher.
McIlroy drops another shot at the 12th while Emiliano Grillo joins the leaders at 13 under.
Robert Rock joins five players at the top of the leaderboard rolled in a 15 foot birdie at the 13th to go 13 under.
Gallacher and McIlroy bounce back with birdie putts at the 11th to join Ilonen and Koepka as joint leaders at 13 under.
Koepka bogeys the 11th and Ilonen is now joint leader at 13 under after McIlroy drops back with a bogey at the 10th.
Olesen and Koepka both miss short putts and par the tenth.
McIlroy has yet to get a birdie finishing the front nine one-over par hitting a bogey on the seventh.
Gallachers manages another par but is two behind leader Koepke after hitting four bogeys.
Koepke turns around with his third birdie to finish the front nine on 33.
Koepke is the outright leader on 14 under after a chipping for a birdie at the eighth.
McIlroy drops his first shot in the final round after a finding the water at the seventh.
McIlroy finishes a couple of inches from the cup for a tap-in par but takes the outright leader despite not having had a birdie yet.
Gallacher hits another bogey, his third of the round, finding thick rough behind a mound at the sixth as McIlroy slides to the top.
McIlroy comes agonisingly close to sink a 30- foot birdie putt.
Gallacher and McIlroy are joint leaders once again as Koepka bogeys at the six while Olesen fails to convert his birdie effort.
Koepka joins McIlroy and Gallacher at the top of the leaderboard after sinking his second birdie in his first five holes.
The leading trio are on 14 under while Mikko Ilonen birdies the last for a brilliant 64 to set the clubhouse target at 13 under.
Gallacher manage to make his first par for the day in the third but is two-over for the round and is tied with McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy regains the lead after another bogey by Gallacher in the second.
Poor start by Gallacher after his tee shot down the left at the first cost him a shot.
He was forced to take a penalty drop down the left of the second after getting stuck behind the trees.
Defending champion Stephen Gallacher makes an ominous start in his bid to become the first man to retain the title at the $2.5 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic by dropping a shot in the opening hole of the final round at the Majlis Course of Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.
Edoardo Molinari and Steve Wesbter both birdie the second to move to within four of Gallacher.
Pars for Olesen and Koepka at the opening hole mean there are now four guys queued up behind the final group.
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