Gallacher does it again in Dubai

European Tour

Stephen Gallacher overcame a disastrous start on Sunday morning to successfully defend his Dubai Desert Classic crown.

The Scot started the final round with a two-shot lead, but his hopes of retaining the title appeared to have slipped away when he bogeyed four of the first nine holes.

However, he somehow managed to regain his composure and carded four birdies on the back nine to finish with a level-par 72 and a tournament total of 16-under-par 272, one shot better than Emiliano Grillo.

Gallacher, though, will be the first to admit that he probably won the tournament on Saturday after he produced a nine-under-par 63 with an eagle and eight birdies.

It was a different story on Sunday though as the 39-year-old started with two bogeys in his first two holes and dropped more shots at the sixth and the eighth.

He held his nerve after the turn though to become the first player to successfully defend his title in Dubai.

“What a day – my emotions are gone,” said Gallacher

“I never really played the front nine that well all week. I don’t know, it was a carbon copy of yesterday apart from I holed a couple of putts for par and got a bit lucky yesterday but today I was in bushes and trees and stuff.

“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.”

Argentina’s Grillo finished a six under 66 while Romain Wattel and Brooks Koepka were tied for third at 14 under.

Much was expected of two-time major winner Rory McIlroy after two excellent opening rounds, but he fell away with a 69 on Sunday to finish four shots behind Gallacher along with Paul Casey, Bernd Wiesenberg and Edoardo Molinari.

Meanwhile, world number one Tiger Woods was tied 41st at six under par after finishing with a one-under-par 71.

“Unfortunately, turned it around too late,” said Woods. “I drove it great today, piped it all day. My iron game was not as sharp as I would have liked, but then I also had seven lip outs today, so that’s quite a few lip outs.

“After making that quick easy fix on my grip the other day and from then on I drove it great.

“But it’s been hard chipping off this rye grass as I have been so used to chipping out of Bermuda and that needs a little different technique.”

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