Dubai: Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher struck a final round 72 to clinch the $2.5 million 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 US were tied on 274.
Shiv Kapur played a modest one-under 71 in the final round to finish tied 48th.
Kapur, who shot 72-70-70 and started the day at four-under, had another sedate start. His first birdie came on the third and then followed a bogey on sixth.
He found his rhythm on the back nine with back to back birdies on 10th and 11th, but a lapse on 12th set him back again. A birdie on 13th saw him make up for that. Then came a bogey on the 15th.
Gallacher, 39, began the day two shots clear of world No. 6 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, 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.”
“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.
Top-ranked Tiger Woods (71) birdied his closing three holes for a share of 41st with a 6-under 282.