Is Rory McIlroy getting nervous about retaining his Race to Dubai Crown?
The Co Down man's frustration with his putting is growing by the day but if the former world No 1 hasn't lost his sense of gallows humour, he's already referencing the importance of getting it right for the three Final Series events he faces over the next few weeks.
The four-time major winner said Emiliano Grillo's tee shot to the driveable 17th missed "missed me by a couple inches" in the third round of the Frys.com Open in California.
The Argentinian's long bomb landed around 12 inches from McIlroy's left foot but having missed another slew of putts at Silverado Country Club, McIlroy joked it might have been a blessing if the Grillo had scored a direct hit.
"Would've put me out of my misery," he said. "Die a little bit. To be honest with you."
McIlroy through the drive had missed his head rather than his foot but he was more worried about his mental block on the greens than getting brained by the latest overseas star to join the PGA Tour.
He had 30 putts and two three putts in a one under 71 that leaves him eight shots behind Brendan Steele on six under par.
After birdies at the first and third, he bogeyed the fourth, birdied the eighth but then made three bogeys in four holes from the 11th — failing to get up and down from sand at the 11th before three putting the 12th from 26 feet and the 14th from nearly 60 feet.
"Birdied two of the first three holes and then, yeah, made a couple -- it was tricky enough," said McIlroy, who birdied the 15th and 16th. "Some of the pin positions were tricky, and then I got a little frustrated; got a little sloppier.
"Yeah, it was another one of those days that nothing really -- not that nothing went for me, I just couldn't get anything going.
"I came here with the intention of trying to play well. I'm here. I might as well give it 100% and my best shot.
"So, I yeah, it's a long way to come for one week and everything. I get that. I'm pretty much over the jet lag. Hasn't really affected me too much.
"Yeah, I mean, I sort of right now I'm going to try and play a good round tomorrow, but one eye on this and one eye further down the road. I'm looking at the three tournaments I've got coming up, which are important to me because I want to try to win the Race to Dubai again."
Asked if he had a handle on what might be bothering him on the greens — he isn't the only player struggling — McIlroy said it was more mental than physical but he has no plans to see a mental coach.
"I don't think it's not a technical issue at all because I putt the ball really well on the putting green," he said. "Then I got out there and I hole a couple and maybe I'll miss one or two and it gets into my head.
"It's more a mental thing and trying to trust myself a little bit more. Whether I need to talk to someone about that I'm not sure. Give it another go tomorrow. Hopefully I can see some improvement and go from there.
"Yeah, I've spoken to some people before. Spoken to Dave about the mental side of putting. Worked with Rotella back in 2010. There are different ways. Just trying to look and see.
"But I like to try and figure things out for myself. I feel like I learn more about it that way instead of trying to be told something. I'm going to keep trying to figure it out and see if it improves."
McIlroy put a new putter in the bag at the Tour Championship, explaining: "I tinkered around with a few Nike putters and then settled on one that I putted with for a good couple years maybe. Yeah, even more than that. Maybe two and a half years.
"So it was just more I got stuck in a bit of a rut. If nothing else, change provided some sort of spark. Wasn't really anything. I mean, feels really good off the putter, but it was just more of a maybe mental thing to try and get something going.
"As I said, I really like the way the ball rolls off that putter, so no real adjustment. They gave it to me to hit a few putts with periodically for the last six to eight months. I've always liked it when they've given it to me.
"Yeah, I guess East Lake was one of the first weeks -- obviously have to submit everything to the equipment guys, and I think that was one the first weeks they did it and I could use it."
McIlroy plans to play the Turkish Airlines Open, the WGC HSBC Champions and the DP World Tour Championship as he defends a slim €271,214 lead over Danny Willett at the top of the Race to Dubai.
Third place Louis Oosthuizen is €452,793 behind while Shane Lowry, who is playing all four Final Series events, is €556,251 behind his former team mate.