Rory McIlroy remains "must-see" viewing for the PGA Tour even as the wheels came off in his charge for his second win in three weeks at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
The world number two surged into the lead on 13-under when he blasted six birdies against just one bogey in his first 11 holes at TPC River Highlands.
But he then made a comedy of errors in what is his fourth straight week on the road, running up a quadruple-bogey eight at the 12th and double-bogey six at the 271-yard 15th en route to a level par 70 that left him tied seventh with the in-form Séamus Power, six shots behind halfway leader Xander Schauffele on eight-under.
After claiming his 21st PGA Tour win in Canada two weeks ago and contended for the US Open, McIlroy pulled his tee shot out of bounds at the 390-yard 12th.
He then blocked his third into deep rough, plugged his fourth in a greenside bunker, thinned his fifth over the green and duffed the chip before getting up and down for an eight and just the sixth quadruple bogey in his US career.
He was back to one-under for the round but then had his head in his hands after running up a double-bogey six at the driveable, 271-yard 15th where his blocked tee shot caromed off a cart path into deep fescue rough.
After slashing back into play, he pitched through the green into a lake before holing a 12-footer for a six.
He rallied with a birdie two at the 16th but still shot 70 to end the day tied for sixth on eight-under with the in-form Séamus Power.
The Holywood star admitted at the US Open he's been struggling to find an ideal three-wood and it cost him again last night.
"Three fairway wood shots are what cost me," McIlroy said.
"For whatever reason, I haven't been comfortable with my fairway woods the last couple of weeks."
He added: "You know, I just hit three loose ones there, two on 12 and then the one on 15. That was really it. I played well the rest of the way. Obviously got off to that great start.
"I thought I came back well. I made a good putt for six on 15 and then birdied 16. Yeah, I should be closer to the lead. Feel like I let a lot of guys into the golf tournament because of it.
"But, you know, it's still only two rounds. There are two rounds left and a lot of golf left."
On his errors, he said: "Yeah, it's golf sometimes I think. Yeah, I mean, it sort of came out of the blue. I haven't made a big number like that or a couple of big numbers like that in a long time.
"You know, when you hit a tee shot like on 12, the first one, the second one is pretty difficult, you know, and you're sort guarding against the left one and I missed it right.
"Yeah, I mean, again, it was just one of those. I put myself in a great position in this tournament and then just three bad swings have sort of cost me six shots.
"You know, I've got all that work to sort of try to make up over the weekend. At least I have the time to do it."
Power was followed around by a fan wearing a T-shirt featuring his picture as he continued his meteoric rise by firing a five-under 65.
The Irish duo were tied for seventh, six shots behind Schauffele, whose second successive 63 gave him a five-shot clubhouse lead over Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Nick Hardy and Cameron Davis on 14-under.
Power is hoping to give local member Tim O'Brian more to cheer about over the weekend.
"I saw him, yeah," beamed the West Waterford star, who has been followed by O'Brian since he Monday qualified for the event last year with a 65 and has since become a PGA Tour winner and soared to a career-high 36th in the world from 437th just 13 months ago.
"Yeah, it's been amazing," Power said of his new-found fame. "Obviously 18 months ago that wouldn't have been a thing. Obviously, your face gets out there a little bit more, you're on TV a little bit more, and good golf kind of leads to that.
"So that's a good thing. I like it. It's cool. Hopefully, I can get some more people like that, more fans going forward.
"It's probably my first year on TOUR where at this time of the year I'm in a really good spot, not worried about Top 125 and all that sort of stuff," Power said. "That definitely helps, just easier to play a little freer, and that's showing in some of my scores.
"Yeah, it's a fun stretch. I had U.S. Open last week, I've always loved this golf course, and then going and playing the Irish Open next week and then the Open after that. It's going to be a great stretch of golf, and I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully, I can keep it up over the weekend."
Meanwhile, the DP World Tour has fined the rebels, including Graeme McDowell, £100,000 (over €116,000) for playing in the LIV Golf event at Centurion Club without releases.
The players have also been advised that they are suspended from participating in the Genesis Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship (July 7-10) and the Barracuda Championship (July 14-17).
Warning of further sanctions should they play more LIV events, Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: "Their actions are not fair to the majority of our membership and undermine the Tour."
At the BMW International Open, Niall Kearney shot a brilliant four-under 68 to make the cut on the four-under limit but 11 shots behind Li Haotong of China who shot 67 to lead Ryan Fox by a shot on 15-under.
Jonathan Caldwell shot 74 and Cormac Sharvin 78 to miss out on five-over and nine over respectively.
On the Challenge Tour, Ruaidhri McGee followed his opening 62 with a 73 to fall three shots off the pace in the Blot Open de Bretagne.
The Derry man (31) is three shots behind France's Robin Sciot-Siegrist, who shot 67 to lead by a shot from England's Alfie Plant.
Ballymena's Dermot McElroy, who was four-over through 10 holes in round one, added a five-under 65 to an opening 70 to share sixth on five-under.
The Island's Gavin Moynihan carded a 70 to share 43rd on level par but Robin Dawson shot 77 to miss out by two shots.