Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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

updated 8:57 PM EST, Sun February 2, 2014
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
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
updated 1:06 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
updated 7:31 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
updated 7:05 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
ADVERTISEMENT