SOME players go a whole year without an eagle but Stephen Gallacher holed an incredible five on his way to winning the Dubai Desert Classic, and I’m hopeful this will rekindle his career.
The Scot hadn’t won in nine years, since a great victory on home soil at the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, but I’ve always thought he had plenty of talent.
Gallacher – the nephew of Bernard and coached by my father, Bob – didn’t push on as expected but was hampered by inuries. Sunday’s win gives him a second bite of the cherry.
It’s a very difficult course in Dubai, especially when a three-shot overnight lead disappears two holes into the final round, but his wonderful 110-yard wedge for eagle at 16 clinched the top prize.
England’s Lee Westwood made a good start to the year, finishing joint fifth. He made a few mistakes due to rustiness but looked in great shape – and all despite the stress of being in the middle of moving house.
Gallacher’s win earned him a top 60 ranking and qualification for the four WGC events, and closer to a guaranteed place at the Masters.
A man who looks sure to challenge at Augusta is Phil Mickelson, who won the Phoenix Open in 28 under par – a sensational performance and the second lowest score ever in a 72-hole PGA Tour event.
It’s great when champions regain top form and Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner, now looks an even better bet at the year’s first Major.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam