Seventeen years after the Barry Burn episode that cost him an Open Championship, the Frenchman’s debut in the Senior equivalent also proved painful. His 11-over-par 83 left the 50-year-old with just four players sitting below him in the 144-man field.
“I am not playing well enough,” admitted Van de Velde after an effort that included a triple-bogey 8 at the sixth, where he was out of bounds, and a double-bogey 6 at the last. It, of course, would have been good enough to claim the Claret Jug back in 1999.
He got over that disappointment long ago. What’s hurting him now is poor good all round.
“Nothing worked today,” he added. “The few good shoots I hit I found fairway bunkers. Four times I had to chip sideways and that doesn’t help around here. I putted pretty poorly – I three-putted four times – as well so put that combination together and it’s not good. It’s a day to move on with. I know where my game is and the score reflects that I am not playing well.”
Most players - and not just grumpy old men - in that situation wouldn’t fancy chewing over the fat with a bunch of golf scribes. Van de Velde, though, is quite possibly one of the nicest blokes to have graced this great game. “There was no rhythm, no momentum going forward,” he continued.”
He was asked by a US television reporter if being here had brought back memories - leaving out “bad”, though that was clearly what he was getting at. “There were no memories,” he insisted. “I feel okay. It was just that the golf swing didn’t want to produce anything. There’s one good shot every blue moon.
“I love this golf course because it’s a tough test. But, if you don’t hit the right shots, you are going to hang yourself.”