West Waterford's Seamus Power can lock up his PGA Tour card this week after firing a super 65 to claim the clubhouse lead in the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis.
Ranked 129th in FedEx Cup standings, the East Tennessee State graduate birdied the 18th from six feet to lead by a shot on five-under-par from a 10-strong group that included Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and US Open champion Brooks Koepka with Dustin Johnson two behind after a 67.
"It is always there in the back of your mind, and you'd obviously like to be higher," said Power, who must be inside the top 125 on August 19 to keep his card. Scores
"But if I play well for one week, it can take care of it very quickly, so I am also aware of that."
Power (31), who is an alternate for the US Open after losing out in an 11-way playoff for three spots on Monday, missed five greens in regulation at TPC Southwind but saved par four times in a six-birdie round.
"You are going to hit it in some awkward spots to try and get it up and down," said the former Olympian.
"So I was able to do that today and had some pretty decent control of my ball, and I was able to hit it in spots where getting up and down was possible at least.
"I am going to need that for sure the next couple of days."
The Tooraneena native, who was a career-best tied fifth in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in March, had to go through the Web.com Tour playoffs last year to retain his card.
Pádraig Harrington is just three shots behind Power despite finishing with two bogeys for a 68 while US Open-bound Shane Lowry, 169th in the FedEx Cup, struggled to a two-over 72.
At the innovative Shot Clock Masters in Austria, where every player in the field is on the clock for every shot as part of the Tour's bid to combat slow play, Sweden's Oscar Lengden shot a six-under 66 to lead by a shot from Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Peter Hanson and Tapio Pulkkanen.
The field averaged four hours and 13 minutes — 35 minutes quicker than the season average —with no penalties imposed for bad times at Diamond Country Club.
Holywood amateur Tom McKibbin (15), who opened with an impressive, one-under 71 on his European Tour debut, said he wasn't put off.
"It's definitely speeding up play, but it didn't really affect me," said McKibbin, who is tied for 39th with Gavin Moynihan as Ruaidhri McGee shot 73. "I just got on with what I normally do."
On the Challenge Tour, Stuart Grehan and Neil O'Briain are six shots behind Portugal's Pedro Figuerido after opening with two-under 69s in the KPMG Trophy at L'Empereur Golf and Country Club in Belgium.
Stephen Grant, Cormac Sharvin and Dermot McElroy are tied 70th after one-under 70s with Jonathan Caldwell tied 139th after a 74.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has been grouped with fellow career Grand Slam chasers Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson in week's US Open with Graeme McDowell joining fellow US Open champions Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson.
Lowry is paired with Chez Reavie with the third member of their group to be decided on Monday.