Gallacher has magic touch in Dubai

irishtimes.com – Last Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013, 14:43Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher plays out of the trees on the second hole during the final round on his way to winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Photograph:Warren Little/Getty Images

Golf: 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 told Sky Sports 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.”

There were so many highlights from his performance that it is hard to know where to start.

Gallacher matched his lowest Tour round with an opening 63 featuring a 175-yard seven-iron into the sixth hole for an eagle two.

He got a ball stuck up a palm tree in his second-round 70, a caddie climbing up a ladder to identify it, and then came a career-best 62 rounded off by sinking a 40-yard bunker shot for another eagle.

There was also his recovery from trouble at the ninth on the final day after he had gone from three ahead overnight to one behind.

“I had a window (between two trees) of about four feet, had to cut it and go under the first tree and over the second,” he added.

“When I saw the ball two feet from the flag I couldn’t believe it. That kept me going and was the catalyst to dig in on the back nine.”

As for what happened on the 16th he added: “I don’t really know what to say. You need that little bit of magic.”

Sterne, having gone back in front with a birdie down the long 10th, let his chance slip with four bogeys in the next six holes, but hung on to take second place after his approach to the par-five last rebounded off a hospitality unit and finished on the brick wall bordering the lake in front of the green.

Minutes earlier Lee Westwood, with whom Gallacher shared second spot last year, had bounced off the bank into the water there.

The bogey six dropped the world number eight into a tie for fifth in his first start of 2013, Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen sharing third spot.

Gareth Maybin finished in a tie for 12th position on 13 under after he finished with a two-under round of 70, with Peter Lawrie two shots further back after a similar closing score. Damien McGrane rounded off his week with a level-par 72 to finish down the field on three under.

FINAL SCOREBOARD (Britain and Ireland unless stated, par 72)

266 Stephen Gallacher 63 70 62 71 (€309,233)

269 Richard Sterne (Rsa) 62 70 66 71 (€206,153)

271 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 68 68 66 69, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 67 66 67 71 (€104,460 each)

272 Lee Westwood 67 71 66 68, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 67 69 69 67 (€71,805 each)

273 Steve Webster 69 69 65 70, Robert Rock 70 68 67 68, Ricardo Santos (Por) 66 71 69 67 (€47,870 each)

274 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 68 67 67 72, Tommy Fleetwood 65 68 69 72 (€35,624 each)

275 Andy Sullivan 69 67 69 70,
Gareth Maybin 69 67 69 70, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 66 71 70 68 (€30,058 each)

276 Garth Mulroy (Rsa) 71 70 66 69, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 68 71 69 68

277 Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 66 68 69 74,
Peter Lawrie 66 70 71 70, Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp) 70 67 71 69, Marc Warren 67 72 71 67, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 68 67 71 71, Ignacio Garrido (Esp) 69 68 70 70, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Esp) 69 69 69, 70, Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe) 67 71 68 71, Andreas Harto (Den) 67 67 71 72

278 Seung-yul Noh (Kor) 66 72 67 73, Justin Walters (Rsa) 68 70 67 73, Scott Jamieson 65 72 70 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 69 71 69

279 Anthony Wall 68 72 68 71, Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 68 72 69 70, Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 71 70 69 69, Chris Wood 68 68 74 69, Alexander Noren (Swe) 68 71 67 73, David Howell 70 68 72 69, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 68 68 73

280 Craig Lee 69 70 71 70, Robert Coles 73 68 70 69, Marcel Siem (Ger) 68 72 68 72, Lee Slattery 69 70 70 71, Paul Casey 66 70 73 71, Gary Lockerbie 68 70 71 71, Jamie Donaldson 67 73 68 72, Gregory Havret (Fra) 70 67 72 71

281 David Drysdale 69 70 69 73, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 67 71 71 72, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (Ind) 69 70 74 68, Simon Khan 68 73 70 70

282 Jorge Campillo (Esp) 69 71 69 73, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 69 71 71 71, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 71 70 71 70

283 Romain Wattel (Fra) 68 67 71 77, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 71 70 69 73, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 70 71 71 71, Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 70 66 69 78, Matthew Nixon 69 69 73 72, Simon Dyson 70 71 73 69, Christopher Doak 65 69 71 78

284 Mark O’Meara (USA) 67 74 71 72, David Horsey 75 66 70 73, Todd Hamilton (USA) 70 68 70 76, Tom Lewis 69 72 74 69, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 68 73 72

285 Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 72 68 73 72,
Damien McGrane 68 72 73 72, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 68 68 73 76

287 Oliver Fisher 69 72 73 73

288 Keith Horne (Rsa) 68 71 74 75, Eddie Pepperell 68 70 72 78, Thomas Levet (Fra) 68 70 77 73

290 Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 69 71 73 77

Article source: http://www.irishtimes.com/sports/golf/2013/0203/1224329593374.html