Rory McIlroy is banking on fan power to roar him back into contention at Royal Portrush.
With girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki cheering him on, the world No 2 was four under with three to play but three-putted the 16th and 18th to turn a super start into a dissapointing 70.
But he reckons he can still feed of the energy of the massive home crowds and scorch right back at the leaders today.
Shrugging off bogeys at the 16th and 18th, McIlroy said: “Having everyone pulling for you is something I’ve struggled with at the Irish Open for the last couple of years. But this year I’m trying to welcome it and use it to my advantage.
“Hopefully I can give them something to cheer about over the next three days because the fan support is just phenomenal.”
Tennis star Wozniacki was the centre of attention following her first round exit at Wimbledon as she followed McIlroy inside the ropes.
After McIlroy birdied the second, he walked up the seventh fairway with her and then ran ahead to catch up with his playing partners and birdie the hole from 25 feet.
Birdies at the 10th and par-three 14th got the world No 2 to within three shots of the lead. But he struggled with the pace of the greens after returning from the US, missed a short putt for par at the 16th, failed to birdie the par-five 17th and then left a 35 footer six feet short at the last and missed for par.
McIlroy said: “With the way I played I felt it could be a lot better but I am not too disappointed. It is still a decent score.
“I would be great to see the course play a bit tougher but I have to play well tomorrow to get myself into contention for the weekend.”
After missing four of his last five cuts, McIlroy added: “After the last few weeks I am just trying to play by way back into it and try and make good swings.
“For the most part I did that today apart from the disappointing finish. Cut out the last three I’d be pretty happy.”
Three-putting the 16th and 18th hurt McIlroy but he argued that it was tough to gauge the speed of the greens after his recent run on slick surfaces in the US.
“Coming from the greens I have been putting on the last few weeks, it is a big change and something you just have to adjust to,” he said philosophically.