Rory McIlroy threw his head back and laughed towards the heavens after holing a 50-footer for par. Mirth, mittens and a measure of masochism were the only way to cope on a day when the atrocious conditions saw 34 pros in the 168-man field fail to break 80 in the second round of the Dunhill Links Championship.
They knew it was coming, with the DP World Tour sending them off at 8.30am with a shotgun start. But the severity of the challenge still came as a shock at the three revered seaside layouts of St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, particularly after the benign challenge of Thursday.
As a gauge of the transformation, first-round leader Roman Langasque went from a 61 to an 80.
In light of this, McIlroy’s 75 at Kingsbarns was far from disastrous, although on one-under he is nine off the lead set by Richard Mansell.
No matter how arduous the test, there is always at least one competitor who manages to navigate a path through the carnage and so Mansell, the 27-year-old from Staffordshire, somehow plotted a route to a four-under 68 at the Old Course to open up a two-shot advantage over former Ryder Cup player Alex Noren.
“I can't feel anything in my body right now,” Mansell, the world No 226, said. “All I was trying to do coming in on the back nine there, was to keep making up-and-downs to save par at the same time as attempting to fend off pneumonia. Definitely the coldest I’ve ever been on a golf course”
There were only nine scores under par, with Scotland's Robert MacIntyre one of those excelling in the savage wind and rain, shooting a 70 to loom large on six-under.
“It got to the point where it wasn’t even golf,” he said. “It was just attitude that got you through it. I just decided to laugh my way through it. Everything is soaked. And I mean, everything.”
Eddie Pepperell could hardly believe he “got away” with a 74, although clearly the hole-in-one helped on the par-three eighth at Kingsbarns.
“That’s the worst ever, in my opinion,” he said. “I don't think we’ve ever played in conditions as difficult as that. The combination of the wind and the rain and for as long as it lasted, it was just brutal.
"I didn't hole a putt, so it was a good job I made that hole-in-one – it was the only way I could get it into the hole.”
Padraig Harrington actually did not believe it to be that windy at Kingsbarns, but this expert links-practitioner – twice an Open champion – still found his yardages all to cock. “Because of how wet it was, the ball was going nowhere,“ Harrington, 51, said.
“The first hole of the day [the fifth] I had 175 yards to the pin and I took a four-iron, thinking I was being smart. I thought ‘I’ll show these boys how to do it when it’s like this’. But I hit it and we didn't see it finish and when we got up there it was 25 yards short.
“So you just had to keep overclubbing. I hit a five-wood 260 yards through the air usually. On the 18th, I hit a five-wood 192 yards. That’s how rainy it was. Even the air was wet.
"I’m happy with a 71 and six back am pleased where I’m standing.”