Paul McGinley was keen to rest after his opening 69 at Royal Portrush. Picture Fran Caffrey www.newsfile.iePaul McGinley was keen to hit the pillow after he “fell asleep” and bogeyed the last for a three under 69 in the Irish Open.

The Dubliner, 45, was four under playing the 18th but three putted to finishe the day tied for 33rd after a marathon eight-hour day on the course.

Battling a bad left knee and fatigue from contending in Germany last week followed by Monday’s Open Championship qualifier at Sunningdale, he knows he has to rest as much as possible to conserve energy for a potential title challenge at the weekend.

One of the players caught by a 98-minute weather delay early in the afternoon, McGinley said: “It is never easy when you have to stop and start all over again. I’m annoyed with the bogey on the last. I fell asleep to be honest. No excuse. Bad concentration.

“It was a straightforward 30 footer and I knocked it eight feet past, but overall it was a good day’s work.”

The Dubliner is riding a wave of good form after two years in the wilderness but all he wanted was an early night after a long day on the links where he was twice beaten in the North of Ireland Championship final.

Chasing a top-two finish that could seal his place in The Open through a mini order of merit ranking, he said: “All I am concerned about right now it getting rest to be honest. It’s been a long week already with Open qualifying on Monday on the back of a big week last week and eight hours on the golf course today is not much fun either.

“I am a bit fatigued and the most important thing is that I get a bit of food and get to bed as early as possible.

“I played solid. I was pleased and it was a thrill to play in front of such huge crowds. It gave me a bit of a boost.”

A serious contender for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy - Scotland’s Paul Lawrie and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez are his biggest rival - McGinley birdied the tough fourth and then made a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh to turn in 32.

But while he bogeyed the 14th and birdied the par-five 17th to get within three of the lead, he was upset to throw away a shot at the last.