Watching professional golf is always a stark reminder that it is the cruellest of all games.
So fine are the margins that the difference between great, good and unplayable can often be measured in feet, if not inches.
Every golfer knows it, of course, and for the most part, every golfer accepts it. The flashes of frustration are to be expected, but they are also what make the highs, high.
AVJennings NSW Open leader Josh Younger constructed a marvellous round of golf on day one at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club.
Starting with six straight birdies will put any golfer in a positive frame of mind, but it wasn’t all beer and skittles for the Victorian, a fluky wind picking up as his group made the turn and making the golf on the inward journey ‘tricky’ at best.
A course already running firm and fast and designed to be played predominantly in the air was now at odds with the conditions, and it is a testament to Younger’s determination and fine play that he made it to the clubhouse bogey-free.
In stark contrast was the round of playing partner Nick Flanagan. The 2003 US Amateur champion has battled various injuries and hurdles in his career but continues to chase the dream of playing at the highest level.
Watching Flanagan, he clearly still has the talent and physical skills to sustain a living playing the game. But at Twin Creeks, the golf gods seemed against him.
Every less than perfect strike or stroke was awarded a punishment seemingly not commensurate with the ‘crime’, and every 50/50 bounce seemed to go against him.
Despite appearing to the untrained eye to be playing a game not entirely dissimilar to Younger, the margin of difference between the two at day’s end was 14 strokes.
Flanagan would likely assess his own play as less than good, and the score certainly reflected it. But 14 strokes? Those watching would find it difficult to believe.
However – and this is both the beauty and cruelty of the game rolled into one – tomorrow brings an entirely new day.
Younger’s stellar play will count for nothing as he, Flanagan and Rhein Gibson march to the first tee for a 7.25 am start.
And – almost ironically – nor will any of Flanagan’s missteps or tough breaks impact his Friday scorecard.
Both start day two with a clean slate and the chance once again to conquer or crash, triumph or trip up.
Anyone who has spent any time around the professional game would not stake anything of import on the outcome at the end of day two.
It’s not just golf it’s tournament golf, and the joy is in the watching of events unfolding.
Fifty four holes remain in this AVJennings NSW Open, and only the brave or clinically incompetent would dare guess what the eventual outcome will be.