Walking off the fifth green at St Andrews today Retief Goosen told Irish caddie Colin Byrne he thought he had just blown his Open championship hopes.
Three hours later and following seven birdies the South African was sitting pretty in the clubhouse after a sparkling 66.
The round, which took him onto the nine under par total of 207 while Tiger Woods was still out battling with the wind, re-ignited Goosen’s bid to bury the memory of last month’s US Open.
At Pinehurst a third win in the event in five years looked odds-on when he strode into a three-stroke lead with 18 holes to go. But then came a nightmare 81.
Ever since then Goosen has been insisting that it did not leave any lasting scars. Now he wants to prove it.
“I started off nicely today, but instead of making birdie on the fifth (a reachable par five) I took six,” he said.
“Walking off I said to Colin that I thought we were out of this now.”
A hat-trick of birdies starting at the seventh and then another from the 14th changed all that. Goosen did then bogey the Road Hole 17th, but driving the last green and two-putting was a nice way for him to finish.
“Hopefully I won’t be too far back,” he then said, unaware that Woods had just driven into gorse on the sixth.
“I’ve not been hitting it as well as I know I can this year – my iron play has been terrible and I’ve been throwing in a bad round.
“Obviously the US Open last round was one of them, but I don’t think there’s anything to be learnt from that. It was just one of those days when everything went wrong. Even when I hit a good shot it was the wrong club.
“To win at St Andrews would be very special. It’s not too often in a career you get to play here.”
Compatriots Ernie Els, Gary Player and Bobby Locke are all past Open champions and Goosen added: “To win like them would be great.”
His best finish in 10 attempts is only seventh, but that was last year and it was preceded by a 10th and an eighth. And he has very happy memories of the Old Course from Dunhill Cup victories in 1997 and 1998 with Els and David Frost.
He played 10 matches those two years and won all 10.