Gallacher defends Dubai Desert Classic title

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Stephen Gallacher of Scotland shot a final-round 72 Sunday to become the first player to successfully defend the Dubai Desert Classic title, beating Emiliano Grillo of Argentina by one stroke.

Gallacher fought back after four bogeys in his opening eight left him in a five-way tie for the lead after 11 holes.

He won the 25-year-old tournament with 16-under 272, his third victory in 18 years and 431 events on the PGA European Tour.

Grillo secured his best tour finish with 15-under 273 when he eagled the last hole for 66.

Former Florida State standout Brooks Koepka (70) finished at 14-under 274, tied for third with Romain Wattel (66), who birdied his last two holes.

Rory McIlroy struggled with 74 to finish tied for ninth. Tiger Woods (71) birdied his closing three holes for a share of 41st with 6-under 282, finishing out of the top 20 in his first two starts of the year for the first time in his career.

Gallacher, 39, eventually broke clear of the logjam atop the leaderboard to birdie Nos. 13, 16 and 17 before a regulation par at the last.

"It took everything I had to win (Sunday), especially after the start I had when I bogeyed the first two holes," Gallacher said. "The good thing is that I was fortunate that no one was running away with the tournament. … The turning point came at 11 when I holed a nice putt for birdie."

The victory will lift Gallacher 30 places in the next world rankings to 37th and a place in the four majors this year.

McIlroy began the last day two shots behind playing partner Gallacher but was 2 over after 10 holes before the first birdie of his round at the 11th.

The Northern Irishman then bogeyed the 12th and 13th before his second birdie of the round at No. 17.

"On the rare occasions I got the ball close, I didn't make any putts, so it was one of those days," McIlroy said. "I thought if I could get to 16 under it would be good enough and it turned out that it was as that's what Stephen got to. I just wasn't able to play well enough to get there. It was just one of those days. Anything that could go wrong, did."

PGA: Kevin Stadler won the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., for his first PGA Tour title when playing partner Bubba Watson missed a 5-footer for par on the final hole.

Stadler, the 33-year-old son of PGA Tour winner Craig Stadler, closed with 3-under 68 for 16-under 268 overall and a one-stroke victory over Watson and Canadian Graham DeLaet.

Stadler won in his 239th start, earning a spot in the Masters, a tournament his father won in 1982. They are the ninth father-son winners in tour history.

Gallacher defends Dubai Desert Classic title 02/02/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 2, 2014 8:41pm]

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