By Brian Keogh
Rory McIlroy struggled to a six-over par 78 in the first round of the Brabazon Trophy at the Forest of Arden.
The 18-year-old from Holywood finished the day three shots outside the top 40 and ties who will make the cut on Saturday evening.
But Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell boosted his chances of a Walker Cup place with a one under par 71 that left him tied for third, just one stroke behind England's David Horsey and Romain Schneider of France.
Banbridge's Richard Kilpatrick and Birr's Stephen Grant are the next best of the Irish on one-over par after rounds of 73 with Co Louth's Simon Ward on four-over after a 76.
Scotland's Lloyd Saltman, who edged out Kilpatrick for the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin last week, carded a disappointing 77.
Esker Hills' Shane Lowry (78), Newlands' Andrew Hogan (79) and Royal Dublin's Niall Kearney (79) are also struggling to make the cut.
Brabazon Trophy, Forest of Arden (par 72, CSS 76)
First round leaderboard
70 David Horsey (Styal), Romain Schneider (France)
71 Sam Hutsby (Liphook), Rhys Enoch (Truro), Gary Wolstenholme (Kilworth Springs), Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye), Romain Bechu (France), Adrien Bernadet (France)
72 Jamie Moul (Stoke-By-Nayland), Sam Haywood (Rotherham), Cedric Scotto (France), Sam Foster (Coventry Hearsall), Keir McNicoll (Carnoustie), Sandro Piaget (Switzerland).
73 Stephen Grant (Birr), Paul Culter (Portstewart), Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge)
76 Simon Ward (Co Louth)
78 Shane Lowry (Esker Hills), Rory McIlroy (Holywood)
79 Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin), Andrew Hogan (Newlands)