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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'

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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.

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