Chris Hanson was relieved to be wearing sunglasses yesterday after striking his opening tee shot at the 143rd Open Championship straight down the middle of the fairway.
The reception he got from the scores of friends and family, who filled the grandstand surrounding the first tee in their yellow shirts emblazoned with #TeamHanson, had the 28-year-old Challenge Tour member from Huddersfield welling up.
Five hours and 18 holes later he was glad to have a cap on his head that he could slowly draw over his face to hide his frustration at a second triple bogey of the day.
The biggest opportunity in the lifetime of this humble Yorkshire journeyman turned into a tale of what might have been as the penal rough and greenside bunkers ended his hopes of progressing to the weekend.
If there is any silver lining to a round of 81, it is that he can tee off in the last group out at 4.06pm today unburdened by the pressures of trying to make the cut.
Hanson can go and enjoy himself, and that is, after all, what debuting in an Open Championship should be all about.
That he is unlikely to qualify for the weekend will not stop his family, friends, and members of the club where he started, Crosland Heath, and where he now plays, Woodsome Hall, from following him every step of the way this afternoon.
“The first tee was special,” said Hanson, whose wife Laura, two-year-old daughter Jess and mother Sue were among those watching on.
“I had a big fan club with their yellow tee-shirts on with #TeamHanson on – that was pretty cool. The first tee shot was good, I hit it really nice and I didn’t feel too nervous, but as soon as I heard the applause that was quite something and pretty special.
“Put it this way, I’m glad I had glasses on. That’s when it sunk in the support I had behind me.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be like so I got on the tee pretty early, saw everyone I needed to see, waved to everyone and it sunk in quite quickly.”
Once the adrenalin subsided, the previously measured Hanson began to struggle in the blustery conditions.
He found the rough on the second and could only slash the ball 30 yards forward. He then got a flier from the thick stuff on the fourth that bounced on the wrong side of a hillock and squirted into the undergrowth.
That resulted in a double bogey, one of which he got back with a wonderful tee shot at the par-three sixth to six feet.
But then three shots to get out of the bunker at seven saw him post his first triple bogey.
A birdie at 10 was overwhelmed by bogeys at 11, 12 and 15 before a third birdie gave him hope of a respectable score.
But a second triple on the par-five 18th, after hitting his tee shot out of bounds and then taking two more from the greenside bunker, soured his initial view of what was still a special day.
“The shots in the bunkers weren’t particularly difficult they were just really poor shots,” said Hanson, who looks set to miss out on a minimum pay day of £12,400 that comes with making the cut. “I just didn’t pull them off anywhere near as well as I should and that just got me in more and more bother.”
He added: “But I had some fun out there so it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s probably the most enjoyable 81 I’ll ever have.
“I’m playing in the Open and I’m back (today) for another go.”