Moments after I finished my third round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last Saturday, I was asked by the TV guys what would be a reasonable score on Sunday that could win me the title.
Considering that leader Stephen Gallacher was around 19-under par at that moment, and everyone was talking about the 30mph wind that was expected on Sunday, I told SkySports that 65 would be a good number to aim for. As soon as I finished the interview, Stevie holed his bunker shot for an eagle on the 18th and finished at 21-under.
I was 14-under par after three days, and even though a lead of seven shots is certainly not insurmountable in golf, it was always going to be a difficult task considering how well Stevie had been playing.
For the rest of the field to have any chance, our only hope was if Stevie’s game disintegrated completely over the front nine of the Majlis course. But considering the way he went about his business the first three days, I just had the feeling that was not going to happen.
Come Sunday and Stevie did give some hope to us with bogeys on the first two holes, but settled down nicely after that and played some magical shots and made some gritty pars. The highlight was the eagle two when he holed his second shot on the par-4 16th, but for me, the shot of the day was the one he hit to two feet on the ninth for a birdie after making a bogey on the previous hole.
There are times when you are just destined to win a tournament and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic was one such event for Stevie. After all, he made five eagles during the four days and holed out three shots. I do feel very happy for the genial Scotsman, who was returning to the winner’s circle after more than eight years.
I was delighted with the way I played the first two-and-a-half days, but disappointed that despite playing the front nine so well on Saturday, I could only make one birdie on the easier back nine, and then struggled a bit throughout on Sunday despite making a good start with birdies on the second and third.
The European Tour goes back to South Africa now for a couple of weeks before the first WGC event of the year — the Accenture Match Play. The number every player has in mind is to be inside the top-64 of world rankings to qualify for the Match Play. As for me, I am taking a well-earned rest after four weeks on the road.
— The writer is a four-time winner on the European Tour.