Big numbers at exactly the wrong time continue to haunt Shane Lowry and try his patience.
But the burly Offaly man's incredible birdie-rate means that if he can cut out the mistakes, he still has a chance to turn his season around in the weather-interrupted Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
On a day when a swirling wind allowed just three players in the 72-man field to break 70, the world No 89 birdied the first, fifth, seventh, ninth to go out in 32, then made another at the 10th to race into the lead on five-under-par.
A bogey at the par-three 11th was no great drama, but after racking up a triple-bogey eight at the par-five 14th and then followed a birdie two at the 16th with a closing bogey, Lowry must dismiss any gathering demons if he’s to contend for a win that could transform his season.
A one-under 71 was a poor return for some sensational golf but that morale-sapping “snowman” will bring back memories of other big mistakes this year.
A bogey at the 15th cost him in last week’s Turkish Airlines Open, but there was also a brace of expensive late double bogeys on the final day of the BMW PGA at Wentworth and the triple bogey six at the 17th that killed his charge in the second round of the US PGA at Quail Hollow and two double bogeys at Valderrama’s 18th.
While Frenchman Victor Dubuisson carded a 70 that gives him a one-shot lead over Darren Fichardt and England's Lee Westwood on six-under-par, Lowry will be reminding himself that has been a birdie machine since September's Portugal Masters.
The 2015 Bridgestone Invitational winner has made no fewer than 109 birdies in his last 24 rounds — a strike rate of 4.54 per round that not even Jordan Spieth could manage in leading the birdies-per-round charts on the PGA Tour this year.
The problem is cutting out the mistakes, and Lowry knows that 54 bogeys, four double bogeys and one triple in those 24 rounds is not going to get the job done.
As for the rest of the Irish in Sun City, Pádraig Harrington added a 72 to his opening 74 to share 30th on two-over, eight shots behind Dubuisson, who was in danger of losing his European Tour card until he finished third in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Like Lowry, Paul Dunne also suffered the triple bogey blues, making a seven at the eighth in a 76 that leaves him 53rd on six-over.
It was also a bad day for Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood, who is 37th, nine shots off the lead after a 74 with Tyrrell Hatton and Ross Fisher, lurking at fifth and sixth in the money list, tied for fourth at halfway.
On the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell shot a one-under 70 in the weather-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba to share 44th place, seven shots behind clubhouse leader Patton Kizzzire (62-70) on three-under.
West Waterford's Seamus Power, tied 56th overnight on one-under-par, was four-over par for his round through nine holes and outside the projected cut line on three-over when play was suspended due to darkness.
Nedbank Golf Challenge, Gary Player CC (Par 72)
138 V Dubuisson (Fra) 68 70,
140 L Westwood (Eng) 70 70, D Fichardt (RSA) 71 69,
141 S Jamieson (Sco) 68 73, A Noren (Swe) 69 72, R Fisher (Eng) 70 71, T Hatton (Eng) 71 70,
142 C Schwartzel (RSA) 69 73, M Kaymer (Ger) 73 69,
143 B Grace (RSA) 68 75, J Luiten (Ned) 71 72, S Lowry (Irl) 72 71, P Waring (Eng) 70 73, B Hebert (Fra) 74 69, R Ramsay (Sco) 73 70, J Suri (USA) 68 75,
144 L Slattery (Eng) 70 74, B Wiesberger (Aut) 67 77, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 74, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 73, A Björk (Swe) 71 73, D Horsey (Eng) 73 71, G Storm (Eng) 69 75,
145 N Elvira (Esp) 70 75, H Tanihara (Jpn) 69 76, G Bourdy (Fra) 75 70, C Shinkwin (Eng) 70 75, R Fox (Nzl) 71 74, D Drysdale (Sco) 72 73,
146 T Olesen (Den) 71 75, M Pavon (Fra) 72 74, S Brazel (Aus) 74 72, P Harrington (Irl) 74 72, I Poulter (Eng) 74 72, R Sterne (RSA) 74 72, H Porteous (RSA) 73 73,
147 L Haotong (Chn) 70 77, C Wood (Eng) 72 75, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 77, F Zanotti (Par) 70 77, T Fleetwood (Eng) 73 74, M Warren (Sco) 71 76,
148 L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 78, G Coetzee (RSA) 77 71, E Pepperell (Eng) 74 74, J Campillo (Esp) 71 77, F Molinari (Ita) 73 75,
149 S Gallacher (Sco) 74 75, D Burmester (RSA) 77 72, S Kjeldsen (Den) 71 78, A Levy (Fra) 72 77, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 75,
150 D Lipsky (USA) 74 76, D Frittelli (RSA) 75 75, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 72 78, P Larrazábal (Esp) 76 74, P Dunne (Irl) 74 76, M Wallace (Eng) 75 75, A Otaegui (Esp) 74 76,
151 A Sullivan (Eng) 79 72, A Romero (Arg) 74 77, R Paratore (Ita) 72 79, E Molinari (Ita) 76 75, N Colsaerts (Bel) 76 75,
152 J Wang (Kor) 73 79, T Bjørn (Den) 79 73, R Wattel (Fra) 76 76,
153 S Hend (Aus) 80 73,
155 B Stone (RSA) 76 79, A Dodt (Aus) 78 77,
156 J Smith (Eng) 76 80,
** P Uihlein (USA) 70 WD