Shane Lowry is tied for 10th after making an eagle, four birdies and a double bogey in the opening round of the Barracuda Championship in Reno.
The Clara man, 159th in the FedEx Cup standings with this event and two more remaining to make the top 125 and keep his card, totalled 10 points (68) in the modified stableford event to trail leader Ollie Schniederjans by just seven points.
With a birdie worth two points, an eagle five, a bogey minus one and a double bogey minus three, the Offaly star is well placed to clinch the top finish he needs to edge closer to safety.
If the event were to end now, he would move up seven spots to 152nd in the FedEx Cup standings.
Seamus Power (69) made five birdies in his first 13 holes at Montreaux Country Club but then bogeyed his 15th and 18th holes to score eight points and share 25th place.
Padraig Harrington (71) was tied 43rd with six and Graeme McDowell (72) tied 68th with four.
Schniederjans (64) made six birdies and a closing eagle to fire 17 points and lead by three from Australian Aaron Baddeley and Denny McCarthy.