Shane Lowry might have been somewhat bewildered by his inability to judge the inconsistent greens as he made a valiant effort but eventually missed the cut in his Portugal Masters title defence. But Peter Lawrie is simply mystified as to why his world has been turned upside down in the space of just two months.
On a day when Simon Thornton, Paul McGinley and especially David Higgins had reasons to smile, Lawrie missed the cut by eight shots and must now travel 10,000 miles to Perth in Australia next week to try and salvage his tour card.
It’s come as a severe shock to the Dubliner, who has had 11 stress free and lucrative seasons on tour since he captured the Rookie of the Year title in 2003, that he now finds himself in this position.
But having opened with a six over 77, a level par 71 was never going to be enough and an eighth missed cut from his last nine starts was the result.
At a loss to explain what has gone wrong, Lawrie said: “A lot of it is probably mental but I have been working with somebody on that. It just hasn’t been happening. I have left no stone unturned. I have worked on every part of the game that is meant to be worked on and gotten no rewards.”
Lawrie has not made any major equipment changes though he admits that he is not at all comfortable on the tee and feels pressure right from the get go. As a result, his mind is racing and his once placid travelling routine is now maddeningly unpredictable.
“The problem is the build up to it,” he said of efforts to find some kind of neutral mental feeling about a given week. “I have changed my ticket so many times now with Aer Lingus it is a joke. Normally I book on a Tuesday. Now I have been missing cuts and go on a Monday and come home on a Friday. It has all been helter skelter.”
Truly at a loss to pinpoint where it has all gone wrong, he said: “I would have said that I feel more uncomfortable off the tee than I ever did. But that’s only because I am not putting a score together. I am starting tournaments par-par-triple bogey and for the last 11 years I haven’t started tournaments like that.
“I tripled 14 yesterday. Hit it in the water left and then next in the water. I am three over and look up at the leaderboard at six under. You are in big trouble then.”
Lawrie has changed caddie more than once this season and will have Brett Rumford’s regular man, John “Ronnie Corbett” Roberts on his bag in Perth next week.
Even if he fails to finish in the top 110 who will salvage their cards - making the cut in Perth would leave him close to that goal - he takes no comfort from the fact that he is still likely to get more than a dozen starts next season even without going to Q-School.
“Everybody says that but it is not the point. I have never even come close to losing my card in 11 years. That’s the hard part to take more than anything but it is what it is.”
While he takes a keen interest in the problems of others, Lawrie is leaning on his family for support rather than lamenting his fate to the world.
“My wife mainly,” he replied when asked who he relies on for support. “That’s the main thing. I try not to confide in too many people. I am not shouting it from the rooftops. But it is hard to take.
“I know you boys have a job to do, you have to write it and people want to read it. I could have just stormed past and said absolutely nothing. everybody (is tip-toeing around me) but that’s the way it is. It might change.”
Suggesting a headline he’d like to see written next week, he smiled and said: “An upside down tournament changed Down Under. How about that?”
Lawrie wasn’t the only Irishman disappointed to pack his bags on a Friday.
Defending champion Lowry struggled to get the pace of the greens in either round and ended up missing the cut by one stroke in his title defence - his first free weekend on the European Tour since January.
A drive into water at the 17th undid a brave effort to make it. Four bogeys in his first seven holes left him five shots outside the cut mark but after picking up shots at the eighth, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th, he bogeyed the par-five 17th, failed to chip in at the last and shot a 71 to miss out by one on one-under.
“It was quite annoying to finish like that because I had fought so hard all day,” Lowry said. “The first seven holes I felt like I didn’t miss a shot and I was four over. I couldn’t get the hang of the greens all week. I can’t really beat myself up about this week.
“It is only one week and my first missed cut in a long time by the smallest of margins. It doesn’t matter whether it is by one shot or 10, I played well enough to contend again and that’s all I can say.
“I don’t know how this is going to go down but I thought the greens were poor this week - inconsistent, fast, slow, soft, firm. It was just so hard to read the pace of putts.
“You are hitting a good shot with a six iron and the green is so firm you are doing well to stop it. And then you get up and it is like putting on glue. I couldn’t get it into my head to hit the putts.
“I putted well at the Dunhill but all week, even in the pro-am, I found it difficult to get to the hole.
“Even on 17, that 15 footer for par looked like glass and I missed it because I simply didn’t hit it hard enough. It was just a bad tee shot on 17. That was the only bad shot I hit and it was disappointing to do it at that time when there was acres of space left. Two pars would have done me but I was thinking of making birdie.
“I’ve got four good events left this year and I am looking forward to them. Obviously it is disappointing to miss the cut when you are defending as well but such is golf.”
England’s David Lynn (65) and Paul Waring (63) share the lead on 12 under par with South Africa’s Hennie Otto (64), one stroke clear of Bernd Wiesberger and Scot Chris Doak.
Simon Thornton is the best of the Irish in joint 11th on eight under but a 69 was not what he would have hoped for after covering the back nine - his opening nine holes - in five under 31.
Three bogeys in his last seven holes cost him a chance to remain in the lead but he is still well in touch.
Ryder Cup skipper McGinley continues to play some of his best golf and a five under 66 left him joint 30th on five under and happy with his efforts.
“I haven’t been undertaking any training as such but I have been doing a lot of swimming and that’s also been good for my knee,” he said. “I’m really motivated as for me remaining competitive is an important part of the job.
“I’ve played with David Howell, David Lynn and I’ve played with Joost Luiten in recent weeks, and as you know I’ve played a lot with Shane Lowry lately, and that’s been invaluable to me.
“So it’s important I stay competitive on Tour and not just go through the motions.
“I’m just disappointed that the season is coming to an end as the first six months were a write off in trying to get an understanding of the Ryder Cup leadership role.
“But since the Irish Open I have been playing really well.”
Higgins, who knows that a top 25 finish would almost certainly secure his card, punched the air in delight after he holed a 10 footer for par at the 18th for a 68 that saw him eventually make the cut with ease on three under.
But there was disappointment for the rest of the Irish with Michael Hoey crashing to a 75 with a double bogey at the last to miss the cut by three.
Damien McGrane also finished poorly with four bogeys in a row for a 74 leaving him four shots outside the number on two over with Gareth Maybin a shot further back despite a 70.