The position was wrong but he knew his target and found it. Justin Rose was joint fourth at Royal Birkdale as an amateur 12 months ago, turned professional immediately afterwards and has had a desperate time since. The first cut is the deepest, but not as deep as no cuts at all.
Rose, 17 and blooming with success, did not make the cut at the next tournament after last year's Open, nor the next, nor the next. Twenty- one times he teed off on the European Tour and not once did he make it to the final rounds. Most people play golf at the weekends; he could not make it past Thursday and Friday.
Yet this was the player who had the golf world at his spikes when, with splendid audacity, he chipped in from 45 yards at Birkdale's final hole a year ago. "He is Britain's answer to Tiger Woods," Michael Bonallack, the normally reserved secretary of the Royal and Ancient, enthused, but if he was it was a mighty funny question.
He has averaged 75 to 76 strokes per round - scores he was making as a 13-year-old - has made it to the third and fourth rounds once, at Slaley Hall last month, and made little more than pounds 5,000. Compare that with the pounds 70,000 he could have raked in if he had been in the paid ranks this time last year and not only the 18-year-old from Hook in Hampshire feels inclined to weep.
The consensus that Rose abandoned his amateur status too quickly was one that Stewart subscribed to yesterday, although the boy in a man's world would not have it. "I'd like to lay this ghost to rest," he said. "I was turning pro after the British Open no matter what happened. I may have missed the cut by 10 strokes that week and I would done the same thing.
"It was a simple question: `How am I going to be a great player quickest?' and to me it was turning professional."
Looking over 12 months of wrecked aspiration, the only thing Rose says he would have altered was his attitude. He was aware he was on a high leaving Birkdale and deliberately back-pedalled, whereas he believes he should have let the adrenaline push him forward. After that the emphasis was on his missing cuts when it ought to have been on higher matters. He was in a vicious circle of failure breeding failure.
"I lost my rhythm really, then my confidence," he said. "Making the cut shouldn't be a big deal but it became so because everyone talked about it. It's what everyone asks me about. I know I'm better than going to a tournament just to make the cut.
"Hopefully I haven't gone through this for nothing. I think somebody keeps saying: `No, you're not going to make the cut this week because you need to learn a little more.' There has definitely been a sense of that."
As for this week at Carnoustie he holds no expectations. "I just want to leave my heart and soul on the course," he said, "play every shot with as much determination as I can. The rest will take care of itself. That's one thing I've definitely learnt."
And a piece of advice for Zane Scotland? "Just do what he did on Sunday and Monday to qualify," he replied. "He's proved he is playing as well as a lot of the pros."
So had Rose. He soared at the Open then plummeted to provide the best example for any young golfer: success does not necessarily breed success. At least not straight away.
THE OPEN TEE-OFF TIMES FOR TOMORROW AND FRIDAY
(GB or Irl unless stated)
0715 and 1145: P O'Malley (Aus), M McNulty (Zim), G Hjertstedt (Swe).
0725 and 1155: R Pampling (Aus), B Langer (Ger), S Pate (US).
0735 and 1215: J Maggert (US), P Eales, B Mayfair (US).
0745 and 1225: N Ozaki (Japan), J Parnevik (Swe), S Stricker (US).
0755 and 1235: C Franco (Par), D Clarke, M Calcavecchia (US).
0805 and 1245: S Dunlap (US), J Sandelin (Swe), K Hosokawa (Japan).
0815 and 1255: D Hart (US), A Coltart, S Appleby (Aus).
0825 and 1305: T Yoneyama (Japan), D Paulson (US), D Carter.
0835 and 1315: R Goosen (SA), T Lehman (US), D Park.
0845 and 1325: S Elkington (Aus), S Torrance, T Tryba (US).
0855 and 1335: T Watson (US), P Harrington, J Sluman (US).
0905 and 1345: B Andrade (US), M A Jimenez (Sp), B Jobe (US).
0915 and 1355: S Maruyama (Japan), P Baker, G Day (US).
0925 and 1405: V Singh (Fij), R Mediate (US), S Garcia (Sp).
0945 and 1415: S Leaney (Aus), F Funk (US), S Lyle.
0955 and 1425: D Waldorf (US), E Herrera (Col), R Karlsson (Swe).
1005 and 1445: N Price (Zim), P Stewart (US), S Struver (Ger).
1015 and 1455: E Els (SA), S Ballesteros (Sp), M O'Meara (US).
1025 and 1505: T Jacklin, *G Storm, R Beem (US).
1035 and 1515: T Levet (Fr), P McGinley, P-U Johansson (Swe).
1045 and 1525: K Tomori (Japan), J Rose, M Weir (Can).
1055 and 1535: J Hugo (SA), T Gillis (US), R Green (Aus).
1105 and 1545: M Long (NZ), S Gallacher, G Ogilvy (Aus).
1115 and 1555: J Rystrom (Swe), G Morales (Ven), M Farry (Fr).
1125 and 1605: P Affleck, J Robinson, F Tarnaud (Fr).
1135 and 1615: P Fulke (Swe), A MacDonald, M Thompson.
1145 and 0715: S Luna (Sp), P Nyman (Swe), B Davis.
1155 and 0725: F Nobilo (NZ), D Duval (US), T Bjorn (Den).
1215 and 0735: C Kyoung-ju (S Kor), M James, S Gump (US).
1225 and 0745: D Frost (SA), C Montgomerie, B Watts (US).
1235 and 0755: K Jong-duck (S Kor), D Howell, A Magee (US).
1245 and 0805: B Hughes (Aus), H Sutton (US), P Sjoland (Swe).
1255 and 0815: J Leonard (US), M Brooks (US), D Robertson.
1305 and 0825: C Spence (Aus), R Russell, S Verplank (US).
1315 and 0835: G Norman (Aus), L Westwood, L Janzen (US).
1325 and 0845: N Faldo, J Furyk (US), D Love (US).
1335 and 0855: P Price, H Tanaka (Japan), S Cink (US).
1345 and 0905: T Herron (US), C Rocca (It), S Katayama (Japan).
1355 and 0915: J Moseley (Aus), D Smyth, B Tway (US).
1405 and 0925: I Woosnam, C Parry (Aus), T Woods (US).
1415 and 0945: A Cabrera (Arg), B Estes (US), B Glasson (US).
1425 and 0955: J Huston (US), M Martin (Sp), S Allen (Aus).
1445 and 1005: G Turner (NZ), J-M Olazabal (Sp), P Mickelson (US).
1455 and 1015: *P Gribben, G Player (SA), C Pavin (US).
1505 and 1025: J Van de Velde (Fr), M Gronberg (Swe), B Charles (NZ).
1515 and 1035: L Mattiace (US), P Linhart (Sp), M Campbell (NZ).
1525 and 1045: *L Donald, P Lawrie, P Leonard (Aus).
1535 and 1055: G Owen, M Allen (Aus), S McCarthy.
1545 and 1105: D Cooper, C Hainline (US), C Hanell (Swe).
1555 and 1115: J Bevan, A Sherborne, R McFarlane.
1605 and 1125: L Thompson, *Z Scotland, W Bennett.
1615 and 1135: A Hansen, P Marksaeng (Thai), A Raitt.
*denotes amateurReuse content