Last-hole eagle boost for Stephen Gallacher in Abu Dhabi

Stephen Gallacher shot a 69 in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to move to seven-under-par. Picture: Getty Images
Stephen Gallacher shot a 69 in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to move to seven-under-par. Picture: Getty Images
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Stephen Gallacher matched Rory McIlroy’s eagle finish the previous day to climb up the leaderboard in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The 43-year-old Scot set up his 3 at the 562-yard 18th at Abu Dhabi Golf Club by hitting a 3-wood - the same club he’d used from the tee - to around 15 feet from 262 yards.

The perfect way to bounce back from his only dropped shot of the day at the previous hole, that gave Gallacher a three-under 69 and a seven-under total after 54 holes to sit joint-30th.

“I played good today after changing my posture,” said the 43-year-old afterwards. “I think I was getting a bit sloppy yesterday but today I played lovely and this couurse is so much easier from the fairways.”

Pressed about that posture change, he added: “It wasn’t much, just moving the ball position a bit, but it certainly made a difference.

“My only bogey was from being in a bunker at the 17th, not having a good lie and then finding another bunker.

“But, apart from that, it was good and it was certainly nice to make an eagle at the last. I hit two 3-woods and rolled in a nice putt.

“I’m happy with that and hopefully I can keep that level of play and hole a few more putts to turn it into a 65.”

Gallacher came out early to the UAE to prepare for both this event and next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the tournament he won back-to-back in 2013 and 2014.

“I think I’m definitely a bit sharper as a result of coming out here at the end of December,” admitted the three-time European Tour winner. “I think when you arrive straight here from Scotland in the winter to play you can be struggling.

“It’s probably better, in fact, to go somewhere else to try and get rid of the rust. You need to do what I did as it is great to be playing in a t-shirt at this time of the year.”

Gallacher jumped above Richie Ramsay in the battle to be leading Scot in the $3 million event after the Aberdonian had to settle for a level-par 72 to stay at six-under, leaving him joint-39th.

“I just didn’t hole anything really,” said Ramsay of his day. “I made a couple of up and downs but I could have done with hitting it a little closer.

“I started off by making a few chances but didn’t take any of them and got a little bit behind the eight ball when I just off the edge at the sixth and didn’t get the first putt up through the grain and missed the next one from six feet.

“Looking back, I had a lot of chances from 20-23 feet and the way these greens are it is probably like putting from eight foot back home at the moment.

“I just didn’t make any but I battled the whole day and it was nice to make a birdie at the last.”

One of his playing partners, young Belgian Thomas Detry, catapulted himself into contention after carding a 64.

“You are trying to keep confident when putts are burning the edges and you are also seeing Thomas hole a few,” added Ramsay.

“You feel you are being lapped a bit, especially on a day like today when the pins are fair and there wasn’t much breeze. When it is like that, the scoring goes bananas on a well-conditioned golf course.”

Ramsay spoke after the opening two days about how his start to the season had left him feeling confident about winning this year and that is still the case.

“I’ve just got to read the greens a bit better as I struggled a bit again with that today,” he said in reply to being asked what he was looking for in the final round here. “I hit a lot of good putts that finished just behind the hole.

“I’ve just got to go out there and let it freeflow and be quite aggressive, keep my foot down and hole a few because momentum-wise it makes the world of difference.

“When you look at all the red numbers on the board, not everyone is stiffing shots to do that. They are hitting it to 15-20 feet and, if you can get your eye in, like Thomas did today, then you can hole a few.”