Stephen Gallacher impressed with strength of field at Abu Dhabi Challenge

Two-time Hero Dubai Desert Classic champion Stephen Gallacher has hailed the strength of this week’s Abu Dhabi Challenge, with 19 former DP World Tour winners boasting a combined 46 top tier triumphs between them teeing it up at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from April 27-30.

That impressive stable of champions is led by Alvaro Quiros with seven DP World Tour wins, including victories at the 2011 Hero Dubai Desert Classic and 2011 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

David Howell, who also lifted the Dallah Trophy in 1999, is a five-time DP World Tour winner, while Matteo Manassero, the youngest winner in DP World Tour history, has four victories to his name alongside Gallacher.

Also teeing it up in the capital will be Brandon Stone and Mikael Lundberg, who have three DP World Tour titles apiece.

“I was having a look at the entry list the other day and I was surprised by how good the standard was this week,” said Gallacher, who will captain the European Junior Ryder Cup Team in Rome later this year.

“It’s getting tougher these days, we’re all getting a bit older and young guys are coming through so it’s a really good field.”

After 26 successive seasons and more than 600 appearances on the DP World Tour, Gallacher lost his full playing privileges last season after failing to finish inside the top 117 of the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.

During that impressive stint, the Scotsman enjoyed plenty of success in the UAE, becoming the first, and only man, to win the Hero Dubai Desert Classic back-to-back between 2013-2014, while also featuring regularly at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a Rolex Series event.

Since the inaugural tournament in 2006, Gallacher has played the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on 16 occasions with 15 of those starts coming at this week’s host venue.

“It’s a totally different atmosphere here this week compared to what I’m used to on the DP World Tour,” said Gallacher, who finished in a share of eighth at the 2015 edition.

“I’m quite pleased the event is here as I did a bit of TV work for the first time at the start of the year at the Hero Cup. I walked the course and was able to see how different it was without stands – it’s totally different on the eye.

“It’s going to be a great event on a fantastic golf course, one I’ve really enjoyed playing over the years. It’s one of those places where the wind gets up and can be a little tricky, but I think that suits the way I play the game which is nice.”

The Abu Dhabi Challenge will precede the UAE Challenge (May 4-7) which is being held at Saadiayt Beach Golf Club.

The two events are part of the European Tour group’s long-term partnership with the EGF, which aims to develop golf in the United Arab Emirates for at least the next decade.

Golf fans in the Middle East are encouraged to come down to both events to support a host of the UAE’s homegrown players, as well as the global stars of the future, with entry free of charge and no ticket required.

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