Dubai Desert Classic: Gallacher storms clear at Emirates course after stunning 62
Stephen Gallacher leads the Dubai Desert Classic by three shots after capping a superb 62 with a chip-in eagle on 18.
Last Updated: 03/02/13 8:14am
The 38-year-old nephew of ex-Ryder Cup captain Bernard is bidding for only a second European Tour win in more than 400 starts and is in ideal position to do so after moving to 21-under par on Saturday by bettering his opening 63 by a shot.
Gallacher, who finished joint runner-up in this event last year, again showed his liking for the Emirates course with four birdies to the turn and then a birdie-birdie-eagle burst from 11 to 13 kicked him clear of the field.
With the course softened by overnight rain, birdies were aplenty but with the chasing pack starting to close the gap, Gallacher burst clear again after holing a long bunker shot on 18 for his second eagle of the round.
Explaining his approach to the last and bunker shot, Gallacher said: "I was right on the limit with rescue on the second shot and I had a bit of mud on the ball so I thought I may as well try and hit in the trap.
"And the minute I hit the bunker shot it was either stiff or in so it was a brilliant way to finish."
Halfway leader Richard Sterne is his closest challenger on 18-under. The South African carded an excellent six-under 66 but went from one in front to three behind due to Gallacher's brilliance.
Thorbjorn Olesen is alone in third but the Dane now has serious ground to make up after Gallacher's unexpected eagle. The recent Abu Dhabi runner-up was round in five-under 67 on Saturday although his first bogeys of the week, at 12 and 16, means he'll start the final day five shots behind.
Two shots behind Olesen on -14 come the trio of Chile's Felipe Aguilar (66), India's Jeev Milkha Singh (67) and England's Tommy Fleetwood (69).
Lee Westwood, playing his first tournament this year, shot his best round of the week as a six-under 66 took him to 12-under although that's now nine shots back.
"If I'm being honest it was probably the worst I've played in the three days. Stupid game, isn't it," said Westwood, who is now two in front of pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia, who lost ground after a modest one-under 71.
Big prizes await Gallacher
It is only four years since former Scottish and European amateur champion Gallacher had to return to the Tour qualifying school during a battle with the viral infection sarcoidosis that affected his lungs and joints.
But he came through that and is now poised for a victory that would lift him from 111th on the world rankings into the top 60 for the first time.
That would virtually secure him a debut in the Accenture Match Play in Arizona later this month, while a climb into the top 50 by the end of next month would mean a trip to Augusta for the US Masters.
Sky Bet make him just 2/5 to convert his three-shot lead into victory.