STEPHEN GALLACHER will swap Durban for Abu Dhabi feeling confident about his chances of enjoying another career high in the European Tour’s Middle East Swing.
The Lothians star finished joint-29th in the $4 million Volvo Golf Champions, his opening event of 2014, picking up just under £30,000 at Durban Country Club.
He’s now moved on to the United Arab Emirates, where the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship tees on Thursday, when Open champion Phil Mickelson will spearhead a star-studded field. It’s followed by the Qatar Masters, Gallacher’s final event before defending his title in the Dubai Desert Classic, which will have world No.1 Tiger Woods as the star attraction in its 25th staging.
“The positives I can take out of the Volvo Golf Champions is that I know what I need to work on,” said the 39-year-old, who finished 16 shots behind winner Louis Oosthuizen after rounds of 73, 74, 72 and 73.
“I have been hitting a lot of balls at home and it’s always tough to transfer that from the range to the course. But it’s really close and I am happy with that.
“I will just do a bit of putting when I get to Abu Dhabi and then maybe just play nine holes on Tuesday ahead of the Pro-Am on Wednesday.”
Gallacher is looking forward to being able to use his driver a bit more this week, having been forced to leave it in the bag most of the way round a tight course in South Africa. “It’s been another tough week as my last two tournaments have been Royal Melbourne (World Cup) and here in Durban,” he said. “And you probably won’t find too many tougher back-to-back than those. I don’t think I would enjoy my golf that much if I was having to deal with the conditions we had yesterday.
“It’s going to be a lot different this week as, apart from the par-3s, you will be hitting driver at every hole, so that will be nice.”
Gallacher will spearhead a nine-strong Scottish challenge in Abu Dhabi after Bonnyrigg-based Jamie McLeary came off the reserve list over the weekend. It will be the Tour rookie’s biggest test so far since securing his card off the Challenge Tour last season.
Also in the field are Colin Montgomerie, who finished three shots ahead of Gallacher in Durban, as well as former Open champion Paul Lawrie, Marc Warren, Craig Lee, David Drysdale, Peter Whiteford and Chris Doak.