Two-time winner Stephen Gallacher stopped himself from making an early exit in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic by showing grit and determination on a day when he was close to “losing the plot”.
The 44-year-old carded level par 72 but spent most of his second round trying to dig himself out of trouble from the sand and trees flanking the fairways on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club as he struggled from start to finish off the tee.
He hit two provisional balls in the opening 10 holes before following a birdie at the eighth with a second of the day at the par-5 13th to move to six-under-par for the tournament.
However, his hopes of heading into the weekend with the leaders in his sights were undone by dropped shots at the 15th and 18th, one the six holes he’d birdied in an opening 68.
“I played terrible today so level-par is alright. I could easily have lost the plot,” said Gallacher afterwards. “That’s how I have been playing coming into the week. I don’t know what happened yesterday (when he drove it well) as I had the same swing thoughts today and played like that.”
Gallacher had started the day three shots off the lead but is now eight back after world No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau carded a second 66 to hit the halfway stage sharing top spot with Australian Lucas Herbert (69-63) who is also 12-under.
“It is one of those courses where it is definitely easier from the fairway. It is very scoreable. But, if you are playing from the trees and the sand, it can be a tough track, as I found today,” added Gallacher.
“I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was right and left. When I hit good shots I was in close. It’s not far away but I didn’t know what I was doing today.
“I probably only hit a handful of fairways, if that. I’m off to the range now and can hopefully kick on over the weekend.”
Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay had progressed to five-under, having picked up three and two shots respectively, before just scraping into the weekend on three-under.
“I was cruising at five-under until I made a stupid mistake at the par-3 fourth (his 13th hole), putting my tee shot in the water and having to make a good up and down for bogey,” said Warren after signing for a 71.
Two more dropped shots in the next three holes left him outside the projected cut mark playing the tough eighth and ninth but he made a 15-footer for birdie at the first of those then got up and down to save par at the last.
“I struggled a bit today due to the fact I didn’t drive it as well as yesterday, but there have been enough positives to take from the first two days,” said Warren, who came through a qualifier to secure his spot in the field. “I’ve not been making any world misses but around here sometimes that’s better than being just off the fairway, where the rough can be thick.”
Ramsay was angry after a bogey-bogey finish, having been in good positions on the fairway at both holes, as had been the case when he also dropped a shot at the first, his 10th.
“Very disappointing,” he said after having to settle for a 72. “I was five-under in the middle of the fairway at the first but then hit some wrong shots and that was partially my fault.”
“I hit a 9-iron into the first and missed the target and then missed the green right at the eighth with an 8-iron. At the last, the ball has gone absolutely miles and I couldn’t go at the pin as it could have ended up in the water so I had to go a bit to the left. It’s just getting it up and down – the same stuff that I’ve struggled with the last 10 years.”
Eight days after missing the cut by a shot in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, David Drysdale came up two strokes shy on this occasion and was joined in making an early exit by Glasgow’s Scott Jamieson and Colin Montgomerie.