Michael Hoey insists it was poor scheduling and travel fatigue rather than a major problem with his game that led to him missing his last 11 cuts in a row.
But the 37-year old from Belfast has a great chance of ending that miserable run in Sweden on Friday after a three under 69 featuring five birdies left him just two shots behind a sextet of leaders in the Nordea Masters.
"I have always liked this course," said Hoey, who shares 15th spot at Bro Hof Slott. "I haven't been here for four years. Didn't play when Mikko [Ilonen] won in 2013. But the greens are fantastic and the course condition is great. And it suits if you can get it off the tee and I did that today. I drove it quite long.
"You've confidence from 20 feet that if you start it on your lines it was going to go in so it was nice to get on those greens."
Asked why his form has been so poor, he told European Tour Radio's Nick Dye: “I just struggled a little bit with the travel at the start of the season, more than anything. A lot of travel.
"Some people don't see how many places with go to. I think I did 10 week in a row travelling so I probably got my schedule slightly wrong. But I love playing and that's why I did it so much. It was actually a struggle not to play tournaments."
Hoey looked likely to end his bad run in the BMW PGA at Wentworth last week but followed a career-best 70 on the West Course with a 78 to miss the cut by three shots.
“We all know this game is a game of fractions but then I have enjoyed so much already being here at Bro Hoff Slot.”
Greystones' Paul Dunne came back from bogeys at his first two holes to card a two under par 70 for a share of 27th while Peter Lawrie missed just two fairways and scrambled eight times out of eight for pars as he posted a one under 71 to tie for 45th.
Andrew Johnston and Marc Warren head a six-strong group at the top of a congested leaderboard, carding five under par rounds of 67 to share the lead with French duo Clément Berardo and Sébastien Gros, Scotland’s Scot Henry and Florian Fritsch of Germany.
Lee Westwood, a three-time winner of this tournament, lurks menacingly on four under par after mixing six birdies with two bogeys in his round of 68.
The Ryder Cup star was joined in a share of seventh place by, among others, his fellow former winner Mikko Ilonen plus compatriots Ross Fisher, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace, who has claimed an astonishing four successive titles on the Alps Tour.
Henrik Stenson fared less well, signing for a level par round of 72 to end day one in a share of 63rd place. Much of the damage was done on a front nine of 38 which included a double bogey on the signature 17th hole, where his tee shot found a watery grave. However, the home hero did stage a late rally, picking up three shots in his final five holes to climb back up the leaderboard.
“It’s a great start. The wind was starting to pick up towards the end of our round, so conditions got a bit trickier, but the course was immaculate and the greens were perfect, so I was still able to make some birdies and walk off with a very nice score.
“Things have been a lot better in the last few weeks. I’ve been making a lot more birdies and making a lot less mistakes, so that’s a pretty good combination.”
“I played very solid for the most part, bit sloppy in places, especially the par five fourth hole. But overall I struck the ball well and I was pretty pleased with my putting, I hit a lot of good putts on the right lines, and although not all of them went in, a fair few did. So I’m happy.
“I’m still as competitive as ever and I still feel I’m more than good enough to win when I’m on song. I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for a while because I’ve got a good record here, so it’s nice to get off to a strong start and hopefully I can keep it going.”
“I’m thrilled. I played really solid golf from tee to green and managed to hole a few putts, so yeah, I’m delighted. I didn’t really have too much in the way of expectations this week because Wentworth was such a buys week, then I had the US Open qualifier on Monday so I was a bit tired when I got here. So I just thought I’d go out and play and see what happens, and luckily it turned out alright.
“I love Sweden and this course is awesome. You can’t not enjoy playing here, especially when the sun’s shining. It’s a beautiful place.”
Nordea Masters, Bro Hof Slott (Par 72)
67 C Berardo (Fra), S Gros (Fra), S Henry (Sco), A Johnston (Eng), M Warren (Sao), F Fritsch (Ger),
68 A Björk (Swe), L Westwood (Eng), R Fisher (Eng), M Wallace (Eng), M Ikonen (Fin), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), N Fasth (Swe), J Sjöholm (Swe),
69 T Linard (Fra), B Åkesson (Swe), A Noren (Swe), R Green (Aus), C Blomstrand (Swe), Michael Hoey (Nir), C Shinkwin (Eng), R Johnson (Swe), S Hansen (Den), R Karlsson (Swe), T Bjørn (Den), H Porteous (RSA),
70 R Karlberg (Swe), S Lee (Kor), J Quesne (Fra), J Lima (Por), D Dixon (Eng), J Morrison (Eng), R Sattel (Fra), N Colsaerts (Bel), K Broberg (Swe), A Wu (Chn), Paul Dunne (Irl), O Wilson (Eng), P Meesawat (Tha), J Hansen (Den), J Lagergren (Swe), R Jacquelin (Fra), J Dantorp (Swe), S Hend (Aus),
71 A Quiros (Esp), D Brooks (Eng), G Boyd (Eng), C Paisley (Eng), J Karlsson (Swe), Peter Lawrie (Irl), F Zanotti (Par), T Hatton (Eng), J Hugo (RSA), M Kokocinski (Swe), J Edfors (Swe), J Kruger (RSA), S Jamieson (Sco), M Carlsson (Swe), R Paratore (Ita), B Hellgren (Swe), C Lee (Sco), M Svensson (am) (Swe),
72 S Soderberg (Swe), J Winther (Den), J Campillo (Esp), R McEvoy (Eng), H Stenson (Swe), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), R Evans (Eng), T Pilkadaris (Aus), Z Lombard (RSA), M Manassero (Ita), M Jonzon (Swe), L Jensen (Den), J Walters (RSA), C Hanson (Eng), D Lipsky (USA), H Rönnblad (am) (Swe),
73 L Canter (Eng), M Foster (Eng), D Gaunt (Aus), O Fisher (Eng), J Scrivener (Aus), S Gallacher (Sco), J Robinson (Eng), F Laporta (Ita), J Senior (Eng), P Eriksson (Swe), T Van Der Walt (RSA), S Jeppesen (Swe), B Evans (Eng), R McGowan (Eng), S Benson (Eng), N Bertasio (Ita), A McArthur (Sco), G Storm (Eng), P Lawrie (Sco), J Carlsson (Swe), P Edberg (Swe), M Madsen (Den), F Aguilar (Chi),
74 G Havret (Fra), M Lundberg (Swe), R Gouveia (Por), E Molinari (Ita), R Rock (Eng), A Otaegäi (Esp), R Bland (Eng), M Johansson (Swe), S Kapur (Ind), L Bjerregaard (Den), B Hebert (Fra), J McLeary (Sco), E Goya (Arg), S Arnold (Aus), E De La Riva (Esp), S Dyson (Eng), O Bergqvist (am) (Swe),
75 S Walker (Eng), D Gavins (Eng), L Nemecz (Aut), N Elvira (Esp), D Papadatos (Aus), J Singh (Ind), N Ravano (Ita), S Manley (Wal), M Larsson (Swe),
76 U Van Den Berg (RSA), A Wennstam (Swe), J Fahrbring (Swe), R Kakko (Fin), P Widegren (Swe), B Dredge (Wal), M Orrin (Eng), D Chopra (Sie), R Fox (Nzl), B Virto (Esp), B Rumford (Aus),
77 M Kinhult (Swe), R Davies (Wal), J Wang (Kor), E Pepperell (Eng), A Cañizares (Esp), S Khan (Eng), R Dinwiddie (Eng), T Lewis (Eng),
78 D Im (USA), Y Yang (Kor), P Peterson (USA),
79 P Larrazábal (Esp), S Webster (Eng),
80 A Dodt (Aus), G Murray (Sao),
81 M Baldwin (Eng), P Hanson (Sie),
DQ T Pieters (Bel).