Another tournament, another day of frustration with a sport Shane Lowry is rapidly falling out of love with.
An opening-round 74, three over par, at Carnoustie has put the 31-year-old on the back foot at the 147th Open and the Irishman had no one but himself to blame for an error-filled round of one birdie, two bogeys, and a double-bogey six at the 10th hole which appeared to do even more damage than his scorecard suggests.
Lowry is unsure why he continues to grapple with his game, evidenced by a fall in the world rankings from 58th at the start of the year to his current position of 90th.
A career-best of 17th in autumn 2015 seems a very long time ago but while the former WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner is at a loss to know whether his problems lie in his decision-making on the course or perhaps in concentration levels and focus, he is painfully aware that he is not having much fun out there between the ropes.
“Look I don’t know, to be honest. I’m not enjoying my golf at the minute, and my golf is not really enjoying me and that’s the way it is, and it’s hard to kinda take,” Lowry said yesterday.
“Look, I’m giving it my best, but what can I do.” Of yesterday’s round of 74, he said: “I just made too many mistakes. I felt like I played OK but had too many mistakes. It was just not good enough.
“From 104 yards to make double (at the par-four 10th), in a tournament like this... it’s just such a kick in the you-know-whats. You can’t really expect to try and compete. That’s the way it is, that’s the score I shot and there’s no thing I can do about it.”
If Lowry is to take any solace, he should look to a battling inward nine that followed his double bogey, the Offalyman successfully negotiating the extremely difficult closing stretch from 15 home with a par at each hole.
“I fought very hard towards the end,” he said. “I had a great up and down at 15, a great up and down at 16; you could call it an up and down, I two-putted from 40 yards on 17.
“So if I would have birdied the last I felt I would have robbed a back nine.
“Yeah, I played OK but hitting it in the bunker off the tee on 14, just little mistakes like that all day, hitting it in the bunker on two... I know people are going to do it, but, like, I was acres left.
“Just stuff like that I kept on doing and I can’t afford to do it at this level. I honestly felt that I got off to a good start, I had four lip-outs on the first five holes and from there that’s where my day went.” Playing in the group ahead of Lowry was compatriot Paul Dunne, who was satisfied with his day’s work after carding a level-par 71 thanks to three good scrambled pars at 16, 17 and 18.
“Through 15 holes I could have been two, three under and even a few lower. I didn’t play the last three well but managed to scramble good pars out of it. It is a decent start, the game is a little better than the score, I think. I am driving the ball well.”
Dunne, 25, is playing with a bandaged right wrist as he waits to have a cyst on the back of his hand drained next Monday and is relying on painkillers to avoid discomfort.
He admitted the challenge of playing Carnoustie was as much about mental strength as conquering the toughest of all the oldest major’s venues.
“For me, it’s dealing with frustration because when there’s some good shots you hit and you don’t feel like you’re getting rewarded, you’re missing in stupid spots that you know you shouldn’t miss at and you give yourself chances you don’t capitalise on.
It happens to everybody, over the course of four days, anyway, but it’s just a matter of me trying to let it go because those things can kind of linger a little bit.
“So just moving on when you feel like you get a little bit of a bad break or you do something stupid.”
Darren Clarke, the 2011 champion who is a month away from his 50th birthday and life on the PGA Champions Tour, faces an uphill battle to make the cut following an opening round of 82.