Amateur Championship winner James Sugrue overcame his initial nerves at The Open to card a level-par round of 71 to match playing partner, local favourite and former winner Darren Clarke.
The 22-year-old from County Cork was paired with the Northern Irishman in the first group out on the opening day at Royal Portrush.
Crowds lined the fairway to welcome Clarke, who has lived in the village for several years and has a house overlooking the links, and it provided a daunting start.
"I was definitely the most nervous I've ever been on the golf course this morning when I looked up at the grandstand and it was just packed," he said.
"And Darren walked on in front of me and the roar was just unbelievable. I was very nervous for the first and the second.
"I birdied the second, it set me in a little bit, and just enjoyed it really from there on in."
His 71 put Sugrue ahead in the quest for the Silver Medal, although it looks like being a tight race with three rivals within three shots.
England's Curtis Knipes is just one back, with American Brandon Wu, who is likely to be on the United States' Walker Cup team competing at Royal Liverpool in September, and Japan's Takumi Kanaya a further stroke behind.
"Obviously I've got my eyes on the Silver Medal. Making the cut obviously would be great but the Silver Medal is probably the one," said Knipes, who came through final qualifying at Princes.
The 2018 European Amateur champion Matthias Schmid, from Germany, carded a 76 but Crawley's Thomas Thurloway could manage only a 12-over 83.