Padraig Harrington confessed that he needs the home crowd to roar him on if he’s to get back into the winner’s circle at Fota Island.
The triple major winner, 42, is desperately searching for confidence after a nightmare run since he captured his last European Tour win in the US PGA nearly six years ago.
And after starting and finishing with birdies for a solid 69, he admitted that he needs the crowd to boost his ego over the next three days.
Harrington said: “I got great support today, I really did. It was very, very nice the support there and I took a lot of encouragement from it.
“I felt good about it all day and I’m sure if I keep playing well, I’ll give them something to cheer about.
“That would be nice, because it does give you a bit of a boost.”
A crowd of 16,178 turned up to cheer on their Irish heroes and Harrington did his bit alongside Rory McIlroy and Scot Stephen Gallacher.
He sad: “It was a great crowd out there for sure, and it did give me a buzz. There is a little bit of momentum that it brings to the game. I enjoyed that end of it.”
Harrington had 30 putts in a solid round with his only bogey coming at the 18th — his ninth — where his five wood approach trickled into the water and he failed to get up and down for par.
It could have been an even better round had a few 25 footers dropped.
But Harrington knows that his short game saved him at least twice and he’s looking forward to building some momentum with the help of the fans.
Buoyed by a closing birdie at the ninth, he said: “It kind of felt a little bit frustrating out there but it was nice to hole that birdie putt on the last. It's always nice to birdie the last hole before lunch.
“I'm happy with what I'm seeing with my game. A bit of momentum wouldn't do it any harm, and I see that with a lot of players.
“It's amazing what momentum does to a guy's game, and holing the odd 12 footer for par when you haven't played the hole well can make an extraordinary difference to the next tee shot.”
Still, he’s not getting ahead of himself after several false dawns already this year.
He said: “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’m confident that my game is in good shape and showing some good signs.
“I’m working on the right things and I’m going to try and be patient and let it happen.
“This is a big week for me but I’ve got four weeks now into the Open and I really want to be sharp by the time I get to the Open.”