Cameron Davis grinds a testing opening round at The Lakes.
Cameron Davis had a year to think about his defense in the Stonehaven Cup, but it never started in his wildest nightmare.
Davis, the normally inexhaustible 22-year-old, walked to the first tee at The Lakes and felt a million dollars on his return to his hometown on a layout with which he is pre-eminently familiar.
A wild tee-shot and a wandering approach later, he walked away with a quadruple bogey eight.
Not 20 minutes later, he had a double-bogey on the second and a bogey on the third, while his #AusOpenGolf title defense was apparently in shreds.
"At that moment, I honestly did not know if I could break 100," Davis said later with a grin that was only possible because of a great kickback.
"I have never had that feeling on a course I can remember, once, I had no idea what was going on."
To his eternal merit, Davis defied extreme test conditions and dried four birds to claw to a first round 76, nine shots drifting from nightly leader Ben An, from Korea
"I kept hanging out there and to be honest, I had no idea what was going on with the first three (holes).
"I tried very hard … probably it tries a little too hard (and) a bit nervous, of course.
"When I heard my name on the first tee, the legs were a little bit of jelly and they tried to get a little too hard.
"I just needed something to go well, just needed a good shot, a decent hole and a par or something and then I could keep it off."
A par on the short par-four fourth was the tonic.
"Suddenly I started to hit a few more greens and I got a few opportunities to make birdie," Davis said.
"I knew I had the last nine birdie chances, regardless of how fast the wind blew or how much the rain fell, there were opportunities out there
"So yes, I'm still disappointed, I really wanted to have a good lap today, just like everyone else, but I think it's a lot better than it could have been."
Davis, who has already made a trademark of seemingly nervous in tight situations with victories in his national championship and on the web. Com Tour in the past 12 months, given to new nerves.
"I did fine until they broke my name and the crowd cheered.
"Suddenly it was a very different feeling, I was just right until that moment, and it's just something you never get used to, I think."
One thing that Davis has learned so well in his short professional career is that you are never out of a tournament until you are on the way home in the car.
In his pre-tournament press conference and again after his round, Davis repeated his thoughts that perfect golf is almost unreachable and that he therefore still had a chance to defend his crown
"People have had such rounds before and still won tournaments," he said.
"The only way I'm going to win is not thinking about it, not trying too much and overpowering things and just letting them happen.
"The more I can … just forget that I had a bad round and just go outside and try to shoot a very good score for three days in a row, you never know what happens."