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Challenge Tour welcomes winning trio in Abu Dhabi 

Challenge Tour welcomes winning trio in Abu Dhabi 

From a Ryder Cup winner to a Rolex Series champion and a player with PGA TOUR experience, a host of DP World Tour winners are competing this week on the European Challenge Tour.

After a month-long break, the Challenge Tour returns to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2018 for the Abu Dhabi Challenge at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.  

The field for the first of two back-to-back events in the Middle East is one of the strongest in the Tour’s history, with 19 DP World Tour winners – who have a combined 46 top-tier wins – teeing it up.  

Here, we take a closer look at the careers of three of those players.

Stephen Gallacher 

With 627 DP World Tour starts to his name, Gallacher sits inside the top ten on the all-time list for tournament appearances. The Scot made his professional debut on the then European Tour in 1996, having earned his card at Qualifying School in 1995 soon after a stellar amateur career culminated in forming part of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team at Royal Porthcawl. His maiden Tour title saw him triumph on home soil at the Home of Golf by lifting the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He would have to wait another nine years before his next win, but it was another memorable success as he claimed the first of back-to-back Dubai Desert Classic titles in 2013. The second helped him secure a captain’s pick from Paul McGinley as he made his Ryder Cup debut for a European team which recorded a 16½ - 11½ win over Tom Watson’s USA team at Gleneagles. Five years later, Gallacher sealed a fourth DP World Tour title at the Hero Indian Open – made more special by having his son Jack on his bag. The 48-year-old is this week making his first Challenge Tour start in nearly 25 years, having missed out on a DP World Tour card at Q School in November. As an ambassador for the game, he set up the Stephen Gallacher Foundation in 2012 to help and encourage junior golfers in Scotland and will later this year have the honour of leading the European junior Ryder Cup team in Rome.

Stephen Gallacher-1468222679

Brandon Stone 

Since graduating from the European Challenge Tour in 2015, Stone has amassed three DP World Tour wins. His breakthrough success came early in 2016, winning the South African Open on his 27th start on the DP World Tour. He added another later that year, again on home soil, by recording a seven-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship as he finished top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. His biggest achievement to date remains his victory at the Scottish Open in 2018. A final round of ten-under-par 60 – where he missed a birdie chance on the last to card a historic 59 – saw him claim his first Rolex Series title at Gullane Golf Club. A near three-year absence from the winner’s circle followed before he won his first Challenge Tour title at the Limpopo Challenge in a four-man play-off in 2021. Since losing his full playing privileges on the DP World Tour at the end of the 2022 season, he has so far registered four top tens on the Challenge Tour this year to sit 15th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings as he targets an immediate return.

Brandon Stone-1252251173

Tom Lewis 

At the 2011 Open Championship, the Englishman - part of the successful Walker Cup team that year - stunned the golfing world by carding a 65 in the first round at Royal St George’s. Then an amateur, he did so playing alongside eight-time Major champion Tom Watson, after whom he is named. Two months later, the Silver Medal winner claimed his first DP World Tour title at the Portugal Masters in just his third start as a professional. That victory would help him finish the season with the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award. He would regain his card at the 2016 Qualifying School but began the 2018 campaign on the Challenge Tour, where he quickly rediscovered his mojo, recording four top tens before victory at the Bridgestone Challenge. Two weeks later, he would reclaim his Portugal title at Dom Pedro Victoria, producing the biggest 54-hole comeback of the season. After his win in Vilamoura, he finished the year with four top-15 finishes in his last six events, including at the DP World Tour Championship as he climbed into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking. In September 2019, Lewis won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to earn his PGA TOUR Card for the 2019-20 season. He would finish runner-up to Justin Thomas in August 2020 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Now back competing on the Challenge Tour – after losing his PGA TOUR status last year – the 32-year-old is off to a fast start in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as he looks to return to the winner’s circle.

Lewis Abu Dhabi Challenge-1252230956

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