Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2014: Daily Leaderboard Updates, Analysis and More

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2014

Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2014: Daily Leaderboard Updates, Analysis and More

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Golf's biggest stars have descended upon the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, site of the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

    Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy headline the event, which they've combined to win three times since 2006. 

    Other notable contenders include past champions Henrik Stenson, Stephen Gallacher and Alvaro Quiros, among others.

    Despite his immense struggles in 2013, McIlroy enters the tournament as the favorite to win for the first time since 2009. After all, the 24-year-old Northern Irishman is less than two weeks removed from a second-place finish at Abu Dhabi.

    With world No. 1 Woods looking to rebound from a dismal performance at last week's Farmers Insurance Open, which saw him miss the fourth-round cut, all eyes are sure to be on both men as they take aim at their first title of 2014.

    With the tournament underway, let's take a look at the latest scores and leaderboard.

Round 4 Recap

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    STR/Associated Press
    Pos.PlayerScoreR1R2R3R4
    1Stephen Gallacher-1666716372
    2Emiliano Grillo-1571676966
    T3Romain Wattel-1468736766
    T3Brooks Koepka-1469657070
    T5Mikko Ilonen-1369727064
    T5Robert Rock-1367706870
    T5Steve Webster-1371706470
    T5Thorbjorn Olesen-1371686571

    via EuropeanTour.com

    It wasn't always pretty. Nor was it even all that great of a round overall. But for the second time in as many years, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic goes to the nearly unheralded Stephen Gallacher.

    The 39-year-old Scot shot an even-par 72 in Sunday's fourth round, capturing the 2014 event in the United Arab Emirates by one stroke over the hard-charging Emiliano Grillo. Gallacher overcame a start to his round that saw him bogey four times on the front-nine, as he dropped out of the multi-stroke lead he held coming into the round.

    But, luckily for Gallacher, those who were hard-charging were too far behind to catch up. Gallacher came back with four birdies on the back nine to right his round, calmed himself down and knocked down a par putt on No. 18 to become the first person to ever win two straight Dubai Desert Classics.

    At age 39, Gallacher has never won on the PGA Tour and rarely plays in major championships. But with the victory, he enters the Top 40 of the World Golf Rankings and looks to be well on his way to his best year of his career.

    "That (world's top 50) was my goal at the start of the year," Gallacher said, via the European Tour. "I knew I was only a win away from getting into all the events like the WGC Match Play and the US Open and if you have aspirations of getting into the Ryder Cup you have got to be in them, so I am delighted with that."

    Rory McIlroy, who led the event heading into the weekend, shot a two-over 72 to finish in a tie for ninth at 12-under. It was the third straight shrug-worthy round for the Northern Irishman, who opened with a 63 and was seemingly on the precipice of a breakout performance. The former top-ranked player at one point held a lead on Sunday, but he bogeyed three of the first four holes on the back nine to fall out of contention.

    Tiger Woods, struggling for the second straight event, tied for 41st after a one-under 71 on Sunday. He needed three straight birdies on Nos. 16-18 merely to stay in the top 50. It's been a difficult stretch for the world No. 1, and things will have to pick up soon if he wants to capture that elusive 15th major title.

    "He's obviously not on top of his game, everyone wants to see the real Tiger," Adrian Flaherty, the tournament director, told ESPN's Bob Harig. "To get him in the last group on Sunday and go around like before and shoot 30 on the back like he's done...we all got the excitement."

    Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel notes this is the worst start of Tiger's career:

    Stats don't lie: Tiger Woods is off to his worst-ever start as a pro: http://t.co/hhNL9qi5bK

    — Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) February 2, 2014

    As for the rest of the field, that was highlighted by Grillo, whose eagle on No. 18 caused everyone rooting for Gallacher to sweat. The 21-year-old Argentine was looking to win his first tournament as a professional. Either way, Grillo has to be happy with getting a check for his best-ever performance as a pro.

    And defeating Woods and McIlroy can't hurt. 

Round 3 Recap

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
    Pos.PlayerScoreRd 3 Total
    1Stephen Gallacher-1663
    2Rory McIlroy-1469
    T3Thorbjorn Olesen-1265 
    T3 Brooks Koepka-1270
    T5 Steve Webster-11 64 
    T5 Edoardo Molinari-11 68 
    T5 Robert Rock -11 68
    8Roope Kakko-1068
    T9 Dawie van der Walt-9 65
    T9 Darren Fichardt-966 
    T9Emiliano Grillo-969
    T9Jamie Donaldson-970
    T9Damien McGrane-971

    Rory McIlroy entered the weekend at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a one-shot lead, and while the Northern Irishman didn't play poorly by any means in the third round, he simply couldn't keep up with the blistering pace set by new leader Stephen Gallacher.

    Gallacher has a penchant for performing well in this tournament as he won it last year. The Scotsman entered Saturday's round with a respectable score of seven-under par, but he raised his game to another level by shooting a nine-under 63.

    Gallacher was actually one stroke over par through the first eight holes, but went on an incredible run with an unreal 28 on the back nine, according to Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel:

    Defending champ Stephen Gallacher, nephew of Bernard Gallacher, shoots back 9- 28 to take lead in Dubai. Played last 10 holes -10

    — Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) February 1, 2014

    He essentially came from out of nowhere to take the lead, and he left McIlroy two strokes behind in second despite the fact that McIlroy had a decent three-under day in his own right.

    Although nobody matched Gallacher's red-hot round, the likes of Thorbjorn Olesen and Steve Webster put themselves in contention with scores of seven-under and eight-under respectively.

    One golfer who probably won't be a factor on Sunday is Tiger Woods. After a highly disappointing one-over second round, Woods bounced back to shoot two-under in the third round, which puts him in a tie for 37th place at five-under for the tournament.

    Woods was firing out of the gates with a four-under first round, however, inconsistent play has caused things to go south since then.

    Tiger was happy with his overall game in third round, but felt as though he left too many shots out on the course, according to Rex Hoggard of GolfChannel.com.

    "Today was an easy day for me to get to 10 (under)," Woods said. "I only hit a couple bad shots and missed a ton of putts. But I really hit it good. Just threw away a lot of shots."

    Although Tiger won't win this tournament barring a round for the ages, he will have an opportunity to round his game into form and get ready for the bigger and better tournaments ahead.

Round 2 Recap

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Round 2 Score

     

    Player

    Score

    Total

    1

    Rory McIlroy

    -2

    -11

    2

    Brooks Koepka

    -7

    -10

    T3

    Danny Willett

    -7

    -8

    T3

    Damien McGrane

    -2

    -8

    T3

    Julien Quesne

    -2

    -8

    T6

    Justin Walters

    -4

    -7

    T6

    Robert Rock

    -2

    -7

    T6

    Henrik Stenson

    -5

    -7

    T6

    Thongchai Jaidee

    -3

    -7

    T6

    Edoardo Molinari

    E

    -7

    T6

    Stephen Gallacher

    -1

    -7

    T6

    Jamie Donaldson

    -4

    -7

    Rory McIlroy remains in sole possession of first place at the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but it’s a much closer tournament after he shot just two-under par in the second round.

    McIlroy jumped out to a nice lead on Thursday, finishing within two strokes of the course record with a nine-under. A pedestrian performance on Friday has the Irishman at 11-under, just one stroke ahead of second-place Brooks Koepka—who put together a fine second round.

    Koepka went seven-under to catapult himself up to the top of the leaderboard, where he is in striking distance at 10-under on the tourney. The 23-year-old is quickly rising up the ranks to stardom and even received praise from Tiger Woods. The star golfer said, ''Really talented. Good kid,” when PGA.com asked about his playing partner in the PGA Championship this past August.

    Speaking of Woods, he had a poor round on Friday and finished the day one-over par. The 14-time major championship winner is eight strokes off the lead at three-under and will need to strike quickly if he’s going to bounce back over the weekend.

    Jason Sobel of GolfChannel.com noted that Woods could have stayed in the United States, attended the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, shot the same score and been better off for it:

    Regardless, Woods isn’t out of it yet. He still has a shot at claiming the top prize rom the $2.5 million purse and can quickly ascend the standings with a good showing in Round 3.

    The rest of the field will be attempting to block that from happening, especially those already near the top of the leaderboard. Richard Sterne of South Africa and Julien Quesne of France join Danny Willett and Damien McGrane, two Brits, at eight-under par right now and all very much in the running to win this event.

    There is a seven-way tie behind that group at seven-under, with Henrik Stenson and Jamie Donaldson the most notable of the bunch. It’s safe to say that this is going to be a thrilling weekend of golf, especially with so many players still in the mix and extremely close to the top with two rounds left to play.

Round 1 Recap

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
    Pos.PlayerScoreTotal
    1Rory McIlroy-963
    2Edoardo Molinari-765
    T3Richard Sterne-666 
    T3 Stephen Gallacher-666
    T3 Julien Quesne-6 66 
    T3 Damien McGrane-6 66 
    T3 Matthew Baldwin -6 66 
    T8Robert Rock-567
    T8 Soren Hansen-5 67
    T10 Paul Lawrie-468 

     

    Round 1 Recap

    Rory McIlroy stole the show at Day 1 of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, shooting a nine-under 63 to propel himself to the top of the leaderboard. 

    ESPN senior researcher Justin Ray put McIlroy's incredible start in perspective: 

    Rory McIlroy: opening 63 (-9), 2 shots off tournament course record, set by Ernie Els in 1994.

    — Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) January 30, 2014

    As Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman pointed out, McIlroy's eye-popping performance signals a recent trend:

    For 2nd straight week, a player under 25 yrs old shot 63 while playing alongside Tiger Woods. First Spieth, now McIlroy #fearless

    — Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) January 30, 2014

    McIlroy was grouped with Tiger Woods and defending tournament champion Stephen Gallacher, but was able to remain focused throughout the round, recording seven birdies and an eagle on No. 3 en route to Day 1's top score. 

    Not surprisingly, McIlroy was pleased with his hot start, per The Guardian:

    It was good. It was really nice. I played really well from tee to green, drove the ball well again; I think I only missed a couple of fairways and only missed one green where I had to really get it up and down. I took advantage of how I am driving the ball and just need to do more of the same the next three days.

    Meanwhile, Woods parred nine consecutive holes to conclude the round four-under after managing four birdies in the early stages. Gallacher would record the trio's only bogey of the round, but finished with an eagle on No. 18 to head into the clubhouse at six-under, three shots off the pace.

    Italy's Edoardo Molinari played a brilliant first round before picking up a bogey on No. 18. Molinari recorded an eagle on No. 2 and picked up five birdies on the back nine to finish seven-under and take over sole possession of second place behind McIlroy. 

    Recent Spanish champions Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Miguel Angel Jimenez both struggled mightily on Day 1. Cabrera-Bello, who beat out Gallacher and Lee Westwood for the Dubai title two years ago, bogeyed Nos. 11 and 12 before closing out the round with six straight pars. 

    Jimenez was even less fortunate, opening his round with back-to-back bogeys and concluding with a bogey on No. 18.

    With tournament favorites McIlroy and Woods both in the mix heading into Friday, Jan. 31's second round, the focus will remain on golf's biggest names heading into the weekend.