Gallacher Gallantly Tames Meltdown Conditions In UAE

Scot Stevie Gallacher continues to impress, showing his younger Challenge Tour colleagues how it’s done ​in the energy-sapping conditions ​in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Challenge.

​At a​ge 48 years and six months, ​Gallacher ​is the oldest in the field​, battling the extreme heat to ​produc​e​ a bogey-free score of 67 ​and mov​e​ to eight-under on the National club course.

​And no sooner had a delighted Scot handed in his scorecard and there was confirmation on the DP Word Tour’s website he had been afforded, and as the European Junior Ryder Cup captain, the last of six invitations into next week’s Italian Open on the Ryder Cup host course of Marco Simone outside of home.

Gallacher had spoke on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Challenge how much he was looking to be handed a Rome invitation and despite five of the six being confirmation there was a little hestiation when Gallacher’s name appeared beside the sixth.

​His superb Abu Dhabi efforts ​has the Bathgate pro lying seventh and six shots adrift of Dubai-based Englishman Joshua Grenville-Wood, who signed for a second bogey-free, seven-under 65 to lead by a shot at 14-under.

Stephen Gallacher, the oldest in the Abu Dhabi Challenge field and showing the youngsters how it’s done.

Gallacher’s no stranger to this week’s host course, and the first ‘full grass’ course ​that was ​opened in the UAE capital in 2000, and where from 2006 to 2020 it hosted the prestigious DP World Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Bathgate pro played in all bar 2015 when injured, but normally as a first event of a New Year, he struggled with a best finish of T8th in 2014 and a lowest score of 65 in 2009.

In fact, prior to this week, Gallacher had played 38 rounds, produced just eight scores in the 60s and made the cut in just six of his 13 prior starts at the club proudly boasting the famed Falcon-like clubhouse.

Now Scotland’s most senior DP World Tour player has produced his lowest opening 36-holes by four shots.

Gallacher said: “It was nice to go bogey-free but then I had a couple of bad holes yesterday, and if I’d not had them, I’d be in contention.

“The key today was that my driver was working a lot better. If you get the driver working around this course, the scores are there.  I managed to hit more fairways today but, to be honest, I also left a few out there.

“I’m in a great position, top-5 at the moment, and it’s where you want to be.  You want to have a chance, and that’s all you can ask in any tournament is that you can have a chance on Sunday.”

It’s not just battling the course for the champion senior Scot but also the heat, with temperatures in the high 80s and forecast to be in the low to mid 90s over the weekend.

Gallacher said: “You’ve just got to drink plenty of water and apply plenty of sun-screen.  Seeing the forecast for the weekend, it’s going to be even hotter.

Borders David Drysdale kept his good ​New Year ​form going with a pair of 70s to be assured of making it four pay cheques in as many events​, including his first three on the Asian Tour.​

Drysdale bravely fought back from a third hole double-bogey to grab a hat-trick of birdies from the 6th hole and then birdie two of his closing three for his four-under total.​

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