Inspired by the recent exploits of Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Richard Bland, the 46-year-old Scot carded a seven-under-par 64 to storm into contention, even though Austrian Bernd Wiesberger looks in the mood to win this event for the second time in a row.
Gallacher was making his return following a nine-week lay-off caused by falling off his mountain bike in a “freak accident” when Bland landed his European Tour breakthrough at the age of 48 and playing in his 478th event in the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry earlier this month.
In another golfing fairytale, Mickelson then became the game’s oldest major winner at 50 as he landed the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last Sunday, when 49-year-old European Ryder Cup captain Harrington also finished in the top five in the season’s second major.
“Age is only a number,” said Gallacher after doing his bit to try and keep the run going in his 587th outing on the European circuit, having landed four titles, including historic back-to-back wins in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. “If you keep yourself fit and can hit the ball a decent distance, you can still compete.
“Obviously, it’s a younger man’s game just now, but it was great watching Blandy win - I was chuffed to bits for him. He was my partner in ‘92 or ‘93 for the GB&I versus Europe, I’ve known him all my days and he did it in style.
“It was also great to see Padraig do well in the US PGA, playing with Shane [Lowry] in the final round and egging each other one.
“It was great to see Phil do it, to be honest. He’s such a legend of the game, just the way he plays, and he looked so focused. It’s a great story for golf, isn’t it, the oldest major winner?
“It does give everybody a boost and I feel like a boy watching those guys. Lee Westwood has also been carrying the flag for us guys in Europe for a while. He’s been in unbelievable form.
“You can do it if you look after yourself and you keep at it and have the hunger and desire to do it. So, there is some hope for us old boys out there (smiling).”
Gallacher, who had started the day outside the top 50 after an opening 71, blazed to the turn in 29 at the Farso venue, having birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th and 18th after starting on the back nine.
“I played brilliant the front nine. I was never outside 15 foot and rolled in some lovely putts,” said the Kingsfield-based player. “Then the wind picked up a little bit, got a little bit ragged, but I was delighted to finish it off the way I did.”
Wiesberger, the 2019 winner, added a 65 to his opening 66 to move to 11-under, leaving him eight shots ahead of Bob MacIntyre (70), with Calum Hill (67) and David Law (71) also progressing to the weekend on four and three-under respectively.