Gallacher claims tour title in Dubai

The Irish Times – Monday, February 4, 2013

European Tour: After a week of magic moments, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher still found time for another in Dubai today as he claimed only his second European Tour title in 20 years of trying.

Battling with South African Richard Sterne for the coveted Omega Dubai Desert Classic trophy, the 38-year-old sank a 110-yard wedge from the rough at the 16th – amazingly his fifth eagle of the tournament.

With Sterne three-putting the hole just as he had the previous green, the gap between them was suddenly four shots, and two closing pars saw Gallacher home by three with a 71 and tournament record-equalling 22-under-par total.

“It’s taken a long time, but it’s even sweeter now,” the nephew of former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher said after a win worth almost €310,000.

His first victory came on home soil at St Andrews in the Dunhill Links Championship nine years ago, and this was the 404th start of his career.

The former Walker Cup amateur – he was part of the side that beat an American side containing Tiger Woods at Royal Porthcawl in 1995 – came into the tournament 111th in the world. But, just like last week’s Qatar Masters champion Chris Wood, he should now qualify for the 64-man Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month.

And if he can make it into the top 50 by the end of next month, then a debut in the US Masters at Augusta beckons for a player who just over three years ago was back at the Tour qualifying school during a struggle with sarcoidosis, a viral infection that attacked his lungs and joints.

“It’s the only Major I’ve not played,” he said of the Masters. “I sit at home with the kids and watch it every year, so it would be a dream to play there.”

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