Scotland's Stephen Gallacher claimed a share of the halfway lead in the Oman Open as he seeks a third European Tour victory in the Middle East.

Gallacher, who won back-to-back Dubai Desert Classic titles in 2013 and 2014, carded a bogey-free 67 at Al Mouj Golf Club to join Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard on top of the leaderboard on nine under par.

Cormac Sharvin leads the Irish challenge on two under, seven behind Gallacher and Hojgaard after carding a 67.

Jonathan Caldwell and James Sugrue are both six over after a 71 and 77 respectively, leaving both well below the projected cut mark of level par.

LEADERBOARD

Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts and Finland's Kalle Samooja are a shot off the lead, with the English duo of Robert Rock and Richard McEvoy part of a five-strong group two strokes further back on six under.

"It's a good spot to be," former Ryder Cup player Gallacher admitted.

"But there is still a lot of golf to be played. My aim will be to do the same things I've been doing.

"It's supposed to get windy at the weekend and I'll go and relax now and try and save my energy for that."

Although Gallacher claimed his first victory for five years in last season's Indian Open, he missed 16 cuts in 22 events and started 2020 with two more before a closing 66 in the Saudi International gave him a tie for 21st.

"I had been struggling a bit and changed some things," Gallacher added.

"I worked on things before going to Saudi, started to hit some good shots there and it's amazing how things snowball.

"You start to chip better, you start to putt better and you start to compete. By Sunday, you just want to have a chance to win coming down the stretch."

Colsaerts, who returned to the winner's circle last year for the first time since 2012, matched Gallacher's 67 with seven birdies and two bogeys.

"I was a little bit in the zone actually," he told Sky Sports.

"I was playing shot after shot, I had what we called the 'good eyes' today, there was not really any shot that really frightened me even though there's a couple that are pretty difficult with this wind.

"Winning last year and knowing that you have an exemption just makes your life a lot easier. You take weeks for what they are and you don't really pay attention to where should I be or how scores are moving, you just worry about your own game. It's a very comfortable situation."

Italy's Lorenzo Gagli, who was reinstated in the field after testing negative for the coronavirus on Wednesday, is four shots off the lead after adding a 70 to his opening 69.

Former world number one Martin Kaymer is three strokes further back following an eventful 69 which included a hole-in-one on the 13th, a double bogey on the 15th and three closing birdies.