Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Stephen Gallacher makes history in Dubai as Rory McIlroy blows victory bid

February 3, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Stephen Gallacher became the first man in the history of the Dubai Desert Classic to defend the title.
Stephen Gallacher became the first man in the history of the Dubai Desert Classic to defend the title.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stephen Gallacher wins Dubai Desert Classic for second year in a row
  • First successful defense in 25-year history of the tournament
  • Rory McIlroy stumbles to a two-over 74 to tie for ninth
  • NEW: Kevin Stadler wins Phoenix Open from Bubba Watson

(CNN) -- Stephen Gallacher became the first man to make a successful defense of the Dubai Desert Classic title as tournament favorite Rory McIlroy had a day to forget Sunday to fall back into a tie for ninth.

Overnight leader Gallacher looked to have blown his chance as he went to the turn with four bogeys, but he recovered magnificently on the back nine of the Majils course to claw back the shots with four birdies.

His level-par final round of 72 left him on 16-under 272, a shot clear of Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, who had set the clubhouse pace after finishing with a spectacular eagle for a 66.

McIlroy, who had narrowly missed out on a $2.5 million prize for a hole in one Saturday, proceeded to miss out on victory after falling away with a 74.

Read: Rory so close to $2.5m 'wedding gift'

Argentina's next elite golfers
Golf returns to the Olympics
90-year-old golfer still going strong

He had started the round two behind playing partner Gallacher, but three bogeys in four holes after the turn scuppered his chances.

"It was just one of those days," he told gathered reporters.

"I think anything that sort of could go wrong did. Okay I hit a couple of loose drives, but I didn't really get away with them or stuff like that. Just sort of, you know, one of those days."

Gallacher, who had played the opening two rounds in the illustrious company of world number one Tiger Woods and McIlroy, admitted he had made it hard for himself after an appalling start, but his victory has boosted his chances of making the European Ryder Cup team.

"I never do anything easy I'm afraid," Gallacher told the official European Tour website.

Read: McIlroy confident despite seeing lead cut

"What a day -- my emotions are gone.

"To win it on the 25th anniversary, it was a good field with all the champions playing, makes it even more special."

The 39-year-old, a nephew of former European captain Bernard Gallacher, lives just 50km from Gleneagles, where the 2014 contest is being staged and wants to get his qualification points in early.

"I'm playing in all the events now and hopefully the Masters so that will be brilliant. You don't want to leave it too late so hopefully I can build on it," he added.

Read: Stalling holds nerve to win at Torrey Pines

Grillo finished alone in second place, his best result of his career, with France's Romain Wattel and Brooks Koepka of the United States a further stroke back on 14-under-par.

Woods birdied his final three holes for a 71, but finished well off the pace on six-under and tied for 41st.

"Unfortunately I turned it around too late," he said.

Meanwhile, Kevin Stadler overhauled former Masters champion Bubba Watson to win the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on the PGA Tour.

It was Stadler's first win in 239 starts after he carded a three-under 68 to win by a shot from Watson on 16-under 268.

Overnight leader Watson had a five-foot par putt on the final hole to force a playoff, but missed it to leave his partner to lift the trophy.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
The next generation of golfers just keeps on getting younger. "They have the confidence to perform against their idols," says one ex-prodigy.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
He was Spain's ultimate matador and golf's greatest escape artist.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy declares he'll represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics, not Great Britain.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Already admired by Annika Sorenstam and with a bucketful of talent, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has the world of golf at her feet.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
Mike O'Connor, UK FootGolf
Like footie? Partial to a bit of golf? Then you'll love FootGolf. The sport's growing fan base includes a host of former English Premier League stars.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
Golfers at at Barkway Park don't seem to concerned and have been taking pictures and videos of the bird when it appears on the greens and fairways.
A runaway ostrich-like bird hiding near an English golf course has caused quite a stir. Some say it's dangerous, while others are cashing in.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
ADVERTISEMENT