The first signs that Rory McIlroy's frustration over poor form is edging towards depression arrived on a wet Thursday near Dublin.
Here, expectation is another factor which weighs heavily on the world No2's mind.
The first-round highlight for McIlroy at the Irish Open was a birdie at his closing hole, which ensured he signed for a two-over 74. Shane Lowry, one of McIlroy's playing partners, bettered that by seven.
Yet it was McIlroy's demeanour which said even more than his wayward golf. Being blunt, it was easy to infer that the Northern Irishman would rather be anywhere other than at Carton House.
"I feel a bit lost right now," he said. "There isn't one part of my game that is standing out as strong. It feels good on the range and I hit all the shots I want to on the range but when I get out on the course it just seems to not really be there. So I don't know if it's a matter of just trying to play my way out of it or just keep grinding on the range or whatever it is."
In short, McIlroy is grasping desperately for answers with the Open Championship less than a month away. "I have got a lot of good people around me," said the 24-year-old. "I had a really good chat with my dad and Michael Bannon [his coach] and JP [Fitzgerald, his caddie] on the Saturday night of the US Open. It felt like we got a little bit of direction from there.
"But it's just tough when you have rounds like this or you have tournaments where you think you're getting somewhere and all of a sudden you're stopped in your tracks and you've got to sort of reassess everything again."
McIlroy's attitude is understandable. In Ireland, focus upon him is greater than anywhere and his bad shots, particularly with his driver, flew in every direction.
"Off the tee, I'm missing one left and I'm missing one right," McIlroy said. "At least if you have one miss, you can sort of play for it but it's tough when you see both shots coming off the tee. It sort of gets you in two minds every time you hit a tee shot."
McIlroy at least received support from Lowry, by whom he was defeated in the first round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
"He didn't get to world No1 by not being a great golfer," Lowry said of McIlroy. "I'm sure he could easily go out tomorrow and shoot 65 again and get right back in this tournament."
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