Hero Indian OpenMarch 31, 2019

Stephen Gallacher becomes the European Tour's latest feel-good winner with his victory at the Hero Indian Open

Stephen Gallacher
Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesStephen Gallacher throws his ball to the crowd on the 18th green after capping his victory at the 2019 Hero Indian Open.

At the end of an extraordinary and ever-fluctuating day’s play on what is surely one of the game’s more extraordinary courses—the DLF Golf & Country Club in New Delhi—Stephen Gallacher somehow emerged as winner of the European Tour’s Hero Indian Open. The 44-year-old Scot made seven birdies in a closing 71, one under par over the Gary Player-design that some argue resembles something from Jurassic Park, to reach nine-under 279 for the week, one shot better than runner-up, Masahiro Kawamura. Spain’s Jorge Campillo was third, another stroke back.

Those rather bland numbers conceal much heartache, however. And carnage, from which even Gallacher was not immune. Courtesy of two lost balls, the eventual champion made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 456-yard seventh. Still ahead by two shots with five holes to play, overnight leader Julian Suri needed six shots to get down from just off the green at the 461-yard 14th hole, the American running up Sunday’s second quad.

Those were not the highest scores of the day though. India’s Rahil Gangjee accumulated a sextuple-bogey 11 on the 624-yard closing hole, while Jens Dantorp of Sweden finished his round of 83 with three triple bogeys—there were nine in total—on the last five holes. In all, the 70-strong field amassed nine triple-bogeys and 46 doubles in increasingly blustery conditions that only accentuated the severe contours of the endlessly eccentric and speedy putting surfaces.

Eight men, including former European No. 1 Robert Karlsson, shot in the 80s; only seven managed to break 70, Campillo’s 67 the best of those.

None of which was bothering Gallacher, whose brilliant ball-striking and three birdies over the closing four holes was in stark contrast to the destruction surrounding him. Even then though, the former Ryder Cup player had to wait to see if his score would be good enough to give him a fourth tour victory and his first since the 2014 Dubai Desert Classic. Standing on the final tee, Kawamura needed to make a birdie to tie, an eventuality made all but impossible by a drive that finished unplayable. In the end, the 25-year-old from Japan, a graduate of last year’s qualifying school, holed from 20-feet for a par-5 to clinch second-spot.

“It was a bit disappointing to begin with,” admitted Gallacher, who had his 18-year-old son, Jack, as his caddie. “I got off to a ropey start. Five off the tee on seven wasn’t good. I was pretty calm even after that hole though. There’s nothing really much you can do other than keep hitting shots and focus on the process. To see that I was only five back gave me a wee bit of encouragement. I thought Just hang in there. When I birdied 15, I saw that Julian Suri had come back and then when I got to the 16th green I was tied for the lead. I just tried to finish as strong as I could and I did that.”

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Gallacher poses with his 17-year-old son, Jack, who worked as his caddie en route to victory in India.

That he could do it with his son by his side made ending the victory draught all the more special.

“He’s a great caddie, quite chilled,” Gallacher said. “When you’re 44 you’re in the sort of twilight so it’s a big win for me. It was good to finish it out the way I did.”

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