Ulstermen Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy were fuming after poor finishes left them trailing in the Estoril Portuguese Open.
Clarke roared to the top of the leaderboard when he rattled off four birdies and an eagle to turn in six-under par 29.
But his putting touch deserted him on the way home as he three-putted three times and was forced to settle for a three under par 68.
The Dungannon giant ended up five shots behind leaders Pablo Martin and Gregory Bourdy, who hit course record 63s to lead on eight-under par.
McIlroy crashed down the leaderboard with a bizarre final hole double bogey six for a frustrating 69 as Damien McGrane led the six-man Irish charge with a four-under par 67,
Four under par playing the tough 18th, the Ulster teenager was in no mood to talk after driving tight against the out of bounds fence and then double hitting his attempted recovery.
Clarke was red-faced with rage at the finish too as he confessed to throwing away a golden opportunity to challenge.
Clarke said: “My game is fine and I have been showing it. But I am wasting shots. Any momentum I have been getting I have been giving it back.”
The Ulsterman holed a four footer at his opening hole (the eighth) and then drained efforts from 15 feet at the 10th and 12th, a 10 footer at the 15th and a 25 footer for eagle at the 16th to turn in six under par 29.
But he used the blade 19 times on his back nine, three-putting the 18th and par-three third before driving into scrub at the sixth to fall back to three under par.
He looked certain to birdie his closing hole, the par-five seventh, but three-putted again from long-range to finish the day five shots off the lead.
“I can handle making bogeys like that one (the sixth) but giving them away with three putts is very irritating,” Clarke said.
McGrane had an eagle three at the 16th en route to his 67 but complained that should have taken far more out of his round on greens that he described as “slow and bumpy.”
McIlroy finished the day tied for 38th place with Paul McGinley, who hit 17 greens but still only managed a two-under par 69 after taking 33 putts.
“I am not holing enough putts, it’s as simple as that,” said McGinley, who 149th in the world and struggling to get into the race for a fourth Ryder Cup cap.
Gary Murphy was three under par with two to play but had to settle for a one-under par 71 after a double bogey six at the 17th while Peter Lawrie struggled to a one over par 72.
Joint leader Martin, who is defending the title after winning as an amateur 12 months ago, finished in spectacular style by firing a 183-yard seven-iron to just 18 inches a the 18th for his eighth birdie of the day.
“I was pretty focused right from the beginning,” Martin said after his bogey free effort set a new course record. “I had extra motivation in defending my title, it makes you care more about the week.”
Bourdy matched the Spaniard late in the afternoon thanks to a brilliant performance with the driver in another bogey free effort with Spaniards Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Jose Manuel Lara carding seven under par 64s to lie just a shot off the pace alongside the Swede Michael Jonzon.