Tom Watson left the 18th hole on what may be his penultimate Open Championship round with mixed emotions.
The golfing great is likely playing his last championship, with only a top ten finish this year providing him with an exemption to compete in any more.
Sadly that looks to be some way off after Watson’s first round +4 left him adrift of the tournament’s pacemakers.
After teeing off the first at St Andrews a small band of fans followed Watson and his group, which also included Ernie Els and Brandt Snedeker, onto number two.
By the fifth that troop of supporters had swelled ten fold as the Open crowd backed the American and looked to carry him through his round.
Things were going steady enough and Watson looked like ending under par until a few holes from home when he double bogeyed three of the last six.
The great backing from the Scottish support and outpouring of positive sentiment for him, had been tempered by a shocking close to his round.
“I played some good golf and made a good putt at 12 to save par,” he said.
“But then the wheels came off.
“On 13 I put the ball in the bunker where you’re not supposed to off the tee, as I did at 17, so I had two three putts after hitting a bad drive.
“You don’t follow up an error with another error or you’re going to make some big scores - and that’s what I did.”
The genuine support behind Watson was evident, and every good putt was cheered like it was a championship winner.
Watson says he had hoped to give the fans something to continue to get excited about as the weekend progressed.
“I was really trying when I got it to a couple under par,” he said.
“I knew the back nine was going to play a little tougher into the wind and I knew I had to hit some quality shots.
“The crowds are very nice, very appreciative and I’m appreciative back.
“I respect what they’re doing for me.”
Current leaderboard (16.37): 1 Dustin Johnson -7, T2 Robert Streb, Retief Goosen, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Zach Johnson -6, T7 Jordan Niebrugge (A), Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Jordan Spieth, Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Tringale, Geoff Ogilvy -5.