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Red-Hot Gallacher Vaults to Lead in Dubai


Stephen Gallacher isn't giving up his title in the Dubai Desert Classic easily. The 39-year-old Scot, who beat Richard Sterne last year to win the tournament by three strokes, carded a sparkling 9-under 63 at Emirates Golf Club to jump into the 54-hole lead in the European Tour event.

After a birdie and a bogey on the par-35 front nine, Gallacher got downright electric on the home half, firing seven birdies and an eagle for a 9-under 28. With his front-nine birdie coming on the 10th, he went 10-under over the final 10 holes.

In reaching 16-under 200, Gallacher vaulted past halfway leader Rory McIlroy, who shot a 69 and is two strokes back heading into Sunday. Four behind are American Brooks Koepka (70) and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen (65).

Gallacher, who entered Saturday facing a four-stroke deficit to McIlroy, became just the third player in European Tour history to play nine holes in 9-under par.

When asked where the round ranks in his career, Gallacher said, "It's up there, obviously. To get yourself back in contention when you needed to . . . it was good."

McIlroy tipped his cap to the new leader. "That's phenomenal," said the 24-year-old Northern Irishman. "I didn't know he was 10-under for the last 10 holes. That's some golf right there."

Gallacher will be matched with McIlroy in the final round. In the first two rounds the defending champion was in the marquee pairing with the Ulsterman and No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods, and will be back in the spotlight on Sunday.

"I thought I'd done all right playing with Woods and McIlroy the first couple of days," Gallacher said. "It was something not in the norm, so it's quite different to the normal stuff. There's a lot of things, outside agencies and stuff you've got to get used to a bit. I thought I had done okay with it."

Five shots out of the lead are Robert Rock (68), Edoardo Molinari (68) and Steve Webster (64).

After rounds of 68 and 73, Woods carded a 70 and is tied for 37th at 5-under 211. Fellow American Fred Couples shot a 73 and is at 2-under 214.

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2014/tournamentid=2014007/leaderboard/index.html.