Stephen Gallacher aiming to build on strong Saudi International sign off

Stephen Gallacher is feeling upbeat for the rest of the season after a strong finish to the European Tour’s three-event Desert Swing.

He carded eight birdies in a closing four-under-par 66 in the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coast.

The last-day salvo lifted the four-time tour winner into a tie for 21st – his best finish since landing the Hero Indian Open just under a year ago.

“It’s as good as I have played for a long time,” said Stephen of an encouraging effort after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“I got some good signs on Saturday, when I was a bit disappointed as I played better than my score. I played lovely today and could have shot 60 today as I hit it really well.

“At the two par-5s, I was inside 15 feet for eagle and probably missed six putts inside six foot, though, in fairness, they are so hard to read.

“I got better as the week went on and I am delighted with that for a finish.

“It’s a great one for me to build on when I come back out for Oman and Qatar and then my title defence in India.”

Stephen, who has just started his 24th season on the circuit, added of the Middle East events so far: “I think the three weeks out here have been tough. The courses have been set up really tough.

“You had to be on your game and it was maybe a bit early in the season for having it so tight and narrow.”

Helped by making the cut in that stretch of big events, with all three featuring world stars, Grant Forrest is the leading Scot in this season’s Race to Dubai in 29th spot.

The 26-year-old was disappointed to finish joint-27th in Saudi after being in a share of tenth heading into the final round, especially after he’d also slipped back on the last day in Dubai.

But, at the same time, he has seen lots of positives so far this season after making changes to his swing with new coach Liam James towards the end of last year.

“This is as good as I’ve felt since coming on to the tour,” said Grant, who is in his second year, having comfortably held on to his card last season.

“The changes that Liam and I have brought into my game over the past six months are starting to take effect.

“I just feel more comfortable over the ball. It’s now just a case of how well I putt and how good my short game is.

“It’s frustrating not finishing a tournament off well, but it is part of the learning process out here.”

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