Rory McIlroy is already battling against 2013 proving to be a year of missed opportunity.
The deposed world No1's season was summed up within six Wentworth holes on Thursday; McIlroy dropped five shots in that damaging spell, reducing him to an opening round of 74 in the BMW PGA Championship. How McIlroy must yearn for a time when equipment or management change do not seem as pertinent as his scores on a golf course.
"For the first 12 holes I played really, really well," McIlroy said. "I hit a lot of good shots. It was just one of those rounds that got away from me a little bit.
"Even when I was three under through 12, I felt like it could have been a little bit better and when things started to not go my way, I didn't really hold it together too well. I feel at the minute as thought I am not getting as much out of the rounds as I should do."
The simple explanation for a generally inauspicious run, albeit one disputed by McIlroy himself, is that there has been too much background noise around him. Few people perform at their best outside of a settled environment.
McIlroy is still clearly coming to grips with Nike's clubs and ball, following his lucrative switch from Titleist, while his split from the Horizon management group will be confirmed in due course.
Is his game falling victim to those distractions? "No, not at all," he said. "I don't know what I would put it down to. Just a couple of mistimed swings and all of a sudden a round can change."
A pertinent issue in McIlroy's case is certainly the weather. The 24-year-old has never made a secret of his dislike for playing in bad conditions; on Thursday morning in Surrey he was subjected to wind, rain and low temperatures. "When you are standing on tee boxes for a few minutes, waiting for the group ahead to go, you get cold," he said.
"I would love to say I'm used to playing in these conditions, but I feel like I'm not. I'm pretty unfamiliar with them over the past few years, playing in warmer climates and it does take a bit of an adjustment. The course is playing pretty long.
"Your body doesn't feel the same as when you are playing in warm weather. Your hands get very cold; I was wearing mittens all day to try to keep them warm."
James Kingston was among those untroubled by the cool air, the South African setting the early Wentworth pace with a six-under-par 66. Those in pursuit were hampered by a delay caused by thunder and lightning.
McIlroy's playing partner, Graeme McDowell, insisted the Northern Irish duo remain on good terms after their relationship appeared strained earlier this week.
McDowell, who remains a Horizon client, signed for the same score as McIlroy. He admitted talks had been necessary after McIlroy was irked at McDowell being quoted in the media about his younger compatriot's Horizon exit.
"Rory read a few things that I had said," McDowell said. "I explained to him where I was coming from with those things. I was merely trying to speculate about speculation.
"After I made it plain where I was coming from, he understood and we have no problems. We are very good friends. The last thing I want to happen, whatever happens between Rory and Horizon, is that him and I lose our friendship. That's not going to happen, we are very good friends and all is good."
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