Stephen Gallacher makes personal history in Saudi

Stephen Gallacher sprinted out of the starting blocks at this week’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 12:44 pm

The Linlithgow tour pro joined a stellar field at the Saudi International.

The event is Gallacher’s 584th on the European Tour and he marked the milestone in some style, shooting the lowest opening round of his career on Thursday morning.

His 62, for -8 par, helped him surge to the top end of the leaderboard ahead of the second day’s play on Friday.

Gallacher headed into the Saudi International on the back of last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

But it was one to forget for the 46-year-old who missed the cut and failed to make the weekend.

Opening rounds of 74 and 73 saw him lie some way back and, in the end, he had to settle for a share of 89thplace.

Two of Gallacher's four European Tour titles have come in the Middle East but he endured a difficult 2020 campaign as he finished 173rd in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

“I actually hit it really close to the pin today which was good, and I managed to hole those sort of ten foot putts for birdie I had,” the former Ryder Cup player said after making ten birdies and two bogeys.

“It was one of those just go on a roll and kept knocking them in.

“It was just draw a line in the sand for 2020.

"With everything that happened: the pandemic, my dad, losing friends, it was just one of those terrible years.

“I couldn't wait for 2021 to come really and get back to a bit of normal - back playing and back enjoying it.

“I worked hard in the winter in the gym and on my net in the house, and came out early and showed a bit of form early doors. 2020, just erase it from my memory and look forward now to 2021.”

This week’s Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers marks the final event of this year’s Desert Swing, boasting an impressive field that includes 13 major champions and four of the world’s top ten. One of those is world number one Dustin Johnson, who won the event in 2019. He is joined by defending champion Graeme McDowell.