Robin Dawson used his putter like a magic wand to inspire his team-mates and give Ireland the rip-roaring start they craved in the Eisenhower Trophy at Carton House.
The Tramore star was in sensational form with the blade, making more than 200 feet of putts in a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 on the bunker-strewn Montgomerie Course to give Ireland a dream start in their quest for gold.
Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell (21) and Kinsale’s John Murphy (20) made slow starts but with Dawson burning up the course, they were inspired by the cheers he created and rallied superbly to post three-under 69s.
With only the two best scores to count each day, Ireland’s 10-under-par total left them alone in second place, just two shots behind leaders Denmark, who played the Montgomerie in an impressive 12-under par with John Axelsen firing an eight-under 64 and Rasmus Hojgaard a 68.
India and Switzerland are tied for third in the bronze-medal position after they negotiated the easier O’Meara Course in nine-under.
But as opening days go, this was a dream start for the boys in green, who left their playing partners from the USA and defending champions Australia eight and nine strokes behind them respectively.
“Delighted with my score,” said Dawson, who made a 20-footer at the 11th (Ireland’s first), a 54-footer at the 12th and 40-footer at the 15th before following further birdies at the 17th, first and third with a 51-footer for his seventh birdie of the day at the sixth.
“My all-round game was decent today,” added the world amateur number 10, who hit 16 greens in regulation in an impressive display in his penultimate event before turning professional.
“We knew coming into the week it was going to be a big birdie-fest. It helps drive us on every time. When you make one (birdie) you want to make another one. I think making a lot of birdies is key out here and going low.”
Murphy had the honour of hitting the opening tee shot alongside Australia’s world No 13 Min Woo Lee and American world No 3 Colin Morikawa.
And while he bogeyed his second and third holes, he quickly settled down, brushing in a 10-footer for eagle at the par-five 15th and birdies at the 16th, 18th and second to get to three-under par.
A double-bogey at the fourth didn’t faze the University of Louisville ace as he bounced back with birdies at the fifth and eighth for his 69, outscoring his playing partners by three strokes.