LOTHIANS star Stephen Gallacher has a second Dunhill Links title triumph in his sights after breaking par at the toughest of the £3.5millon event’s three tracks.
The 2004 winner carded a two-under 70 at Carnoustie to sit on seven-under and tied for 17th at the halfway stage, ten shots off the pace.
But, while South African leader Branden Grace was heading for Carnoustie today, Gallacher faced an easier test at Kingsbarns.
That’s where Grace got his event off to a flying start with a course-record 12-under-par 60 on Thursday and Gallacher also had his sights set on a low one.
“Any time you shoot under par at Carnoustie is pretty good,” said the Bathgate man of his second-day effort.
“It could have been better as I missed a few chances coming in, but I’ll take two-under.
“You can’t let your guard down for two minutes here as it’s such a tough golf course.”
Looking ahead to his next test, Gallacher added: “It’s a chance to go low. The best scores so far this week have been at Kingsbarns, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m definitely feeling up for it.”
The top 60 and ties qualify for tomorrow’s final round at St Andrews, where Gallacher beat Graeme McDowell in a play-off eight years ago to record his breakthrough win on the European Tour.
“I’ve got some good memories from this event and hopefully I can draw on them over the weekend,” he said.
Also on seven-under at the halfway stage was Richie Ramsay, who had a torrid time on and around the greens for part of the day as he signed for a 72 at Carnoustie.
“My short game was really poor on the front nine,” said the European Masters champion, who is attached to The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.
“But I played nice on the back side, hitting some really good shots. If I can go out tomorrow and post a nice number at Kingsbarns, it would put me in a good position.”
David Drysdale’s trip to Carnoustie also saw him card a level-par effort, leaving the Cockburnspath man just a shot behind his two compatriots.
But he admitted his score had been flattering. “I could easily have signed for a 76,” said Drysdale. “I putted poorly after a double-bogey at the tenth (his opening hole) set the trend.
“To be honest, I haven’t been practising or playing well. Yesterday at St Andrews (where he opened with a 66) was a surprise.
“Today I got found out, I suppose, so it’s back to the range.”
Grace, a four-time winner already this year, opened up a five-shot lead after following his sensational opening effort with a 67 at St Andrews to sit on 17-under.
“I love the feeling of winning and I know that’s what I want,” said the 24-year-old from George. “My goal this season is to finish in the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and if I win an event like this I’ll be right up there again.”
Leading the chasing pack are Swede Joel Sjoholm and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, who won in Sicily earlier in the year and also recorded a top-10 finish in The Open.
Grace’s compatriot, Anton Haig, is a further shot back.