You’d struggle to find anyone more upbeat than Russell Knox, yet even he is starting to get frustrated by golf. “I’m just getting punched in the face right now,” he groaned after struggling to a two-over-par 74 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.
The Scottish No 1 had been hoping this week’s return to home soil would provide the spark to ignite his season, having slipped from 18th in the world rankings at the start of the year to 48th on the back of a sticky spell.
It was an easy game for Knox as he won the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China at the end of 2015 before backing that up with victory in the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour just over a year ago. At the moment, though, it is really testing his patience.
“I just feel lost,” he declared. “I feel like I am getting some bad breaks and hitting some bad shots. I can’t seem to get anything good to happen and it’s very frustrating.
“I’ve tried everything. I didn’t touch a club for nine days before I came here. I’ve practised very hard, I have tried not caring… it’s hard. It’s one of those things I know everyone goes through, but it just feels like I am getting punched over and over.”
The 18th, his ninth, was typical of what Knox is encountering at the moment. He was around pin high in two at the 586-yard par-5 but had to straddle the burn for his third, plonked it in the water before doing well in the end to limit the damage to a bogey.
“I got unlucky there times time in the one hole,” he said. “It [his approach] wasn’t that bad a shot and, if it had just gone in the burn the first time, I would have had a drop and a nice putt for par. It’s tough, but you have just got to keep going somehow.
“We always want to do our best but, for some reason, I just can’t do my best right now. I am making too many stupid mistakes. I bogeyed two par-5s today and you just can’t do that. It’s killing my score. Everything is just a little off, so I’ll go back to the drawing board and start again.”
On a day when Stephen Gallacher and Richie Ramsay led the home challenge on 68 in front of a first-round crowd of 10,545, Duncan Stewart was next best among a 12-strong contingent on 71, which included two dropped shots late on. “I was disappointed to bogey my last because it was the worst shot I hit all day, laying up and putting it in the rubbish,” said the Highlander. “Apart from that I played absolutely lovely and, if I can keep playing like that, one under par will be the worst score I shoot.”
Helped by a chip in, Marc Warren carded a 72, one better than local man Jack Doherty, while David Drysdale was unhappy with the greens after a 74, 11 shots more than his sensational closing effort in the Irish Open last Sunday. “They probably look okay on the eye, but they just aren’t good enough to putt on,” he claimed. “There has been too much traffic on them. There were 240 people playing here last week.”