Stephen Gallacher is hoping a “tweak” to his driver can help him continue his love affair with the Emirates Golf Club.
The Lothians star has an incredible record at the venue, winning here twice in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and recording seven top 10s in total in that event.
Some great memories have come flooding back in the build up to this week’s $3 million event and Gallacher is relishing being back in the thick of battle on the Majlis Course.
“This course has been great to me over the years,” said the champion in 2013 and 2014 - the only player to have claimed the coveted title back-to-back. “In fact, there’s no place like it for me, not even in Scotland.
“You get that buzz when you have great memories and think about things young have done. It’s somewhere you just can’t wait to get back to.
“You just can’t wait to play. Even being here with my son Jack playing it on New Year’s Day was a fantastic feeling.”
Gallacher has shot a 62 - one outside the course record held by Ernie Els - here and twice carded 63s.
In addition to those two title triumphs, he was second in 2012 and third behind Rory McIlroy three years later. Twelve months ago, he closed with a 66 to finish ninth - his best result of the season.
“It’s just a solid golf course that has suited my eye over the years,” added the three-time European Tour winner. “I know where to it hit - it is just whether I can hit it there or not. That’s the key.”
That was reference to the fact he struggled at times with his driver in last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, prompting that “tweak” to be made by a Titleist specialist during a practice round earlier in the week.
“The driver was good in bits again today,” he said after playing in the pro-am. “It is getting close. It’s not 100 per cent so I’ve still a bit of work to do and I’m off to do that now.”
Defending champion Sergio Garcia spearheads a strong field that also includes another two-time winner, Rory McIlroy, as well as on-form Tommy Fleetwood and American ace Pat Perez.
“I remember it being strong when Tiger played in 2014 and also last year, of course, but this week is right up there,” said Gallacher of the star-studded field. “All the top guys are here and that means good world ranking points for us.”
Seven Scots in that line up also include Capital-based Richie Ramsay and Cockburnspath’s David Drysdale.
Also in that tartan contingent is rookie pro Connor Syme, who has Edinburgh man Tim Poyser caddying for him after he carried pop star Niall Horan’s bag in the pro-am in a group that also contained McIlroy.
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