Back-to-back birdies to finish his round put Graeme McDowell back in with a shout of making the cut after it looked like he was on the verge of missing out on the weekend at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet.
The former US Open champion was four-over through his first 16 holes after failing to make a birdie and dropping four shots, but he responded superbly with birdies at the 17th and 18th to pull himself back up to two-over.
McDowell will have some work to do in his second round though, his 74 only good enough to put him in a tie for 123rd after the opening day, with the cut in line to be somewhere around four-under-par.
Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin will start his second round one shot better than McDowell after a one-over 73 that featured two birdies and three bogeys, while Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell will also need a very impressive outing today if he is to claw back the deficit after starting with a four-over 76 that included a double and a triple bogey.
Newcastle’s Simon Thornton, meanwhile, was level-par after his front nine, however he struggled to a 41 on his back nine to finish five-over and also faces a battle to make the weekend.
It wasn’t a great day for Irish players, with Colm Moriarty the best of the local figures after a four-under 68, while Padraig Harrington finished with a fairly eventful four-over 76 that featured seven bogeys.
“I suffered a bit from playing too well in practice. Doing a few new things on the golf course is slightly different, gets a little harder to do,” admitted the European Ryder Cup captain.
“Just keep at it and see how we can get on tomorrow. Hit some really pure shots. Lots of good, score was bad, but just one of those days.”
Meanwhile, Germany’s Martin Kaymer has targeted one of the places on offer at The Open Championship for the top three finishers not already qualified after opening with a five-under 67 to trail Lucas Herbert by three at the top of the leaderboard.
“That’s the main goal this week. Obviously playing good, but the main goal is to get into the British Open,” said Kaymer.
“It’s the only tournament that was always one of my dreams when I was a kid. I wanted to win this event but it’s hard to win if you don’t play.”