Stephen Gallacher has leaders in sights and braced for 'roasting' weekend in Abu Dhabi
“Plenty of water and plenty of sun cream,” said Gallacher of how he’d coped so far in warm conditions for the opening two rounds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he sits handily-placed in seventh at the halfway stage but trailing Grenville-Wood by six shots.
The temperature is set to reach 40 degrees by Sunday, which Gallacher acknowledged will be “roasting”, but the 48-year-old Scot is heading into the weekend in fine fettle.
He’s happy to be in contention in his first Challenge Tour outing in more than 25 years while it’s also just been confirmed that he’ll be back in action on the DP World Tour next week.
He’ll be among the Scots teeing up in the DS Automobiles Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf Club, having secured an invitation through his role as Junior Ryder Cup captain.
That event will conclude at the Rome venue on the final day of practice for the Ryder Cup in September and next week will be a great opportunity for Gallacher to see what’s going to be in store for his European side.
On the evidence so far, having followed an opening 69 with a bogey-free 67 to sit in seventh spot on eight-under-par, the four-time DP World Tour winner is going to be heading into that assignment with a spring in his step.
“Yeah, nice to go bogey-free,” said Gallacher. “I made a couple of bad ones yesterday. So the key today was to try and have as many birdies as I could but also to eliminate the errors off the tee and I drove it better today and that meant it was a bit easier.
“If you can get the drives in play, the scores are there, as you can see. I hit more fairways today and I probably left a few more out there, to be honest, as I had it going for a bit. But I’m delighted with that.”
Grenville-Wood, a 25-year-old who has lived in the UAE since 2019, carded a second successive 65 to jump ahead of overnight leader and fellow Englishman Tom Lewis (67).
Brandon Stone, who won the 2018 Scottish Open at Gullane, sits one further back along with fellow South African Wilco Nienaber and Frenchman Julien Sale, but Gallacher has the leading pack in his sights.
“It’s where you want to be,” said the Bathgate man. “All you can ask for in any tournament is to have a chance on Sunday and then it’s down to yourself. Joshua has had a brilliant couple of days by getting to 14-under, so we are chasing already. But that’s not a bad thing.
“You know these days that the standard of golf is so good that you’ve got to go low every round, even on a course as demanding as this. I just need the same again and probably even a bit more and here’s hoping.”
David Drysdale (70) sits in a tie for 20th on four-under, one ahead of Michael Stewart (71), while Craig Howie and Ryan Lumsden both progressed on one-under, as did Euan Walker and Louis Gaughan on level par.
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