After slipping straight back into the old routine on Thursday on his first day back after a three-month injury layoff, Brooks Koepka termed his second day back on the fairways “a bit of a disaster”.
The world No 1 started Day 2 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA as he had ended the first. He birdied the opening two holes to reach 8-under par for the tournament.
From that point on, though, the wheels came off. He bogeyed the par-4 third, then carded a double-bogey six at the fifth.
By the end of the round he cut a bruised figure, posting another double-bogey six at the 11th, and ending ignominiously with a bogey at an 18th that had generally proved fruitful for the Friday field.
It meant he had to sign for a 3-over round of 75, leaving him at 3-under for the tournament – seven shots back from the leader Francesco Laporta.
“My timing was a bit off,” Koepka, the four-time major winner, said.
“I didn’t hit that many good shots the last 15 holes. It was good on the first two but other than that, it was a bit of a disaster.
“I’m going to go to the range and just figure it out. It's just timing. It will take 15 balls.
“It’s a lot different on the golf course trying to do it because there are consequences.”
Koepka will stay in the Middle East after this tournament, as he is due to play the Saudi International at the end of the month.
He will sit out the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week, but is expected to stay in the city, and train at the academy of his swing coach, Butch Harmon, across the city at the Els Club in Sports City.
With two rounds still to play in Abu Dhabi, he has not given up on a noteworthy finish.
“[I will] be off a little earlier [on Saturday], so probably no wind, shoot a low one and then we’ll see,” Koepka said. “We'll see where Sunday ends up.”
The second-highest ranked player in the field, Koepka’s fellow American Patrick Cantlay, enjoyed improved fortunes on Day 2.
The world No 6 holed seven birdies and signed for a 66, to reach 7-under for the tournament, so will tee it up on Saturday three shots off the lead.