When a player is sharp he bounces back from adversity on a tough golf course. But for Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell there wasn’t much evidence of a spring back effect in the town they call Rubber City.

As Lowry confessed that he simply tried too hard to make it happen on his PGA Tour debut and signed for an eight over par 78, McIlroy and McDowell were busy chipping the rust off their games before next week’s US PGA at Hazeltine National.

Struggling with his driver, McDowell managed to putt his way out of even bigger trouble to card a three over par 73 while McIlroy’s lack of competitive sharpness around the greens added up to a five over par 75.

The good news for all three is that they have another three rounds to haul themselves into the higher echelons of the leaderboard in an event where the man finishing last will pocket $35,000.

For Lowry, it is simply a question of enjoying the experience to the full before he returns to the bread and butter of the European Tour to continue his golfing education in the professional game.

Encouraged not to be so hard on himself by his manager, he smiled and said: “I know. It’s hard not to smile. I could be at home getting ready for interpros next week.”

Having warmed on the range up between US Open champion Lucas Glover and Ryder Cup star Hunter Mahan, a nervous looking Lowry joined Justin Rose and the little known New Yorker Mark Turnesa on the first tee.

His mood wasn’t helped by an opening drive that drifted right, hit the downslope of a mound and kicked 30 yards down cart path before nestling frustratingly behind an oak tree.

After pitching back into play, he eventually missed a 13 footer for his par and after failing to get up and down for his birdie from the cloying rough behind the par-five second after two towering hits, he appeared to settle down nicely when he rolled in a 12 footer for birdie at the third.

His decision to go with driver off almost every tee cost him dear, however, and he would hit just four fairways all day, racking up five bogeys in six holes to turn in five over par 40 before dropping another three shots on the way home.

“I am obviously disappointed with my score but that is the way it goes,” Lowry said with a shrug. “I think I just tried too hard. I didn’t play well and I was trying too hard to hole putts and when you do that you just tense up.”

McDowell only fared marginally better than Lowry off the tee, hitting six of 14 fairways. But he took just 26 putts in a round that featured three birdies and six bogeys and conceded that he is simply using the week to iron out the kinks in his driving game before next week’s major examination.

“You don't want to say that this is a warm up, because it is a huge event,” McDowell said. “You feel terrible saying that but we have just had a couple of weeks off after a big run.

"I am gearing up now for another mini season from here until Christmas. I really have to put the foot down and play some good golf from here in.

“I am not driving the ball well at the moment and that is the key to my game right now. I am here to get the driver sorted out this weekend. Apart from that my name is in really good shape.”

Like McDowell, McIlroy has not played a tournament since the Open and his lack of sharpness was obvious around the greens until he holed a 52-foot bunker shot at his final hole, the ninth, for just his second birdie of the day.

He said: “Even the first hole today, the 10th, I’ve hit a good wedge and its spun back off the front of the green and I’ve taken three to get down. It is stupid stuff like that, just from the middle of the fairway taking five.

“I’m just a bit rusty after two weeks not playing competitively. I just need to tighten everything up around the greens.”