Stephen Gallacher soared up the British Masters leaderboard on the back of two eagles as he joined American Wesley Bryan in showing that good golf can be produced in a lot less than four hours.
Playing on his own in the first match in the third round at Close House, the Scot was round in two hours and 47 minutes as he carded a four-under-par 66 for a six-under total in the Sky Sports-supported event.
“Not bad for an old man,” he quipped afterwards. “Two hours and 47 minutes and 66 shots, it’s alright, isn’t it?”
It was a second refreshing example in recent weeks of how top-level professional golf doesn’t necessarily have to be played at a snail’s pace.
Playing in the final round of the BMW Championship on the PGA Tour, Bryan sped round in just an hour and 29 minutes as he shot a two-under-par 69.
“I’ll go and get a second breakfast now,” added Gallacher as he finished at just after 10.15am. “Then I’ll go and get more sleep than I had last night!”
The 42-year-old reckoned he would have been round even quicker if it hadn’t been for some of the steep climbs at the Northumberland venue.
“Have you seen some of the hills out there?” he said. “That’s why I was taking it a bit easier than I might have done. If it was Sunningdale, I’d have been round in two hours.
“You’ll never be able to blame me for being slow any time on a golf course, but I like playing on my own. That’s how I like to practice. If you are first out, you can zip round.”
Playing on his own competitively on this occasion was a lot more enjoyable than it was when the same thing happened at this year’s Irish Open at Portstewart.
“I was only five groups from the end of the field that day and it was a nightmare as it still took me four hours,” he recalled.
Gallacher, who is among six Scots still standing in this event after the opening two rounds, eagled the 13th for the second day running, having also made one at the ninth.
“I played beautifully today and it could have been less than 66,” said the three-time European Tour winner, who was forced to withdraw during last week’s Portugal Masters after being hit with chronic sinusitis.
“I chipped in from the side of the green my eagle at the 13th today while, at the ninth, where they have moved the tee up around 90 yards, I hit a 3-wood on to middle of the green and holed from 15 feet for an eagle there as well.”
The effort lifted him from a tie for 53rd at the start of the day to just outside the top 10 at the time he signed for his card.
“I worked on my putting with Phil Kenyon on Thursday as I’ve been playing lovely but just not holing any putts,” said the Bathgate man.
“I changed my grip back to conventional from right below left and I’ve putted lovely for the last two days. I’ve taken my chances.
“I also changed my putter after the opening round. It’s the same model but a different colour as I felt needed to do something to get some impetus going on the greens.”
“That’s happened, thankfully, and I’ll hopefully get a longer lie tomorrow after being up at 4.30 this morning!”