STEPHEN GALLACHER failed to get his season off to the storming start he’d been looking for in the desert, admitting he’d seen “more sand than Lawrence of Arabia” at one hole.
The Lothians star missed the cut in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship along with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
Gallacher’s second-round 72 left him on four-over - two outside the mark as the world No 1 and No 2 also made early exits in the UAE capital.
But for one costly hole in his opening round, the Scot would still have been chasing a share of a $2.7 million prize fund.
It came in the opening round at the eighth, where he ran up a quadruple-bogey 8.
“I saw more sand on that hole than Lawrence of Arabia” said Gallacher, showing he’d retained his sense of humour.
“I hit it behind a tree and could only hit it backwards. I then hit it behind another tree before finding myself plugged in a bunker.”
It was Gallacher’s first event since he underwent knee surgery at the end of last season and, as a result, he wasn’t too downbeat.
“I struggled on Thursday, when I didn’t really hit many fairways, and if I hadn’t had the eight it wouldn’t have been a bad start,” he added.
“It was just one of those days and this golf course is a tough one straight out of the traps. It was especially tough on Thursday afternoon when the wind picked up and the course became firmer.
“It also got cold and I had to put my waterproof jacket on, which is a rare occurance here.”
In much warmer conditions, Gallacher bagged two birdies in his first three holes in the second round but had to wait until his last hole – the ninth – for another one.
“My second round was a lot better, especially the back nine,” he said. “I played really good, giving myself a birdie chance on almost every hole.
“I only missed one fairway and one green which made me feel as though I was starting to get back into it again. I’d got off to a good start (from the tenth) but then missed the 16th fairway by about a foot and could only chip it forward.
“I’d been two-under up to then but also missed the 17th fairway by around a foot and couldn’t reach the green in two there either.”
Gallacher is now turning his thoughts to the Qatar Masters - the second event on the Middle East swing starting on Wednesday – and has no worries about his fitness.
“The knee is feeling great; it’s just my game was feeling a bit rusty,” he said. I’ll be staying here to practice on Saturday then go to Qatar and play nine holes on Sunday then another nine on Monday.”
Woods, last year’s runner-up, missed the cut by one after being hit with a two-shot penalty over a free drop he shouldn’t have taken at the fifth.
And, making it a double whammy for the sponsor, McIlroy crashed out by four shots following another wayward performance with his new Nike clubs.
“It’s very disappointing but I’ve got to realise that it is only the start of the seasonm” said Mclroy.
“As long as I feel like my game is in good shape heading into Augusta (the US Masters on April 11-14) that’s all I’m worried about.”
The departure of the star duo was good news for Englishman Justin Rose, who followed his opening 67 with a 69 to lead by a shot at the halfway stage.
Four Scots were still standing – Richie Ramsay, Craig Lee, Peter Whiteford and Paul Lawrie.