It took only a couple of practice rounds to confirm what Bernhard Langer already knew - he's not a contender for this year's British Open.
The 53-year-old German has only just returned to competitive action after four months off following thumb surgery, leaving him short of practice for a major tournament he has never won in 30 attempts.
Inevitable rust, dovetailed with his lack of length off the tee, has left him pessimistic about his chances at Royal St. George's this week.
''I don't think I have a chance because I'm been playing literally no golf for four months,'' Langer told The Associated Press at the back of the 18th green on Wednesday. ''I had surgery on my thumb in March and it's been terrible. I couldn't practice, couldn't play.
''I played a couple of events in Germany but it was still not very good and then I took two more weeks off for recovery. I've played a few days in four months. That's not enough.''
Langer couldn't have come any closer to adding the British Open to his two Masters titles - the only majors in his collection.
One of his two second-place finishes came at Royal St. George's in 1981, while he has also come third (1993) and joint third (1985) in Sandwich.
The course may not have changed since then - ''It's no different to 20 years ago,'' he said - but Langer has.
''Right now, I feel some of these guys are hitting it so much further than me,'' said Langer, who is bidding to become the oldest player to win the British Open, surpassing Tom Morris Sr. by seven years.
''Like here (on the 18th), I had a drive and then a 2 iron into this green. There's a bunch of these holes where I think I'm hitting a lot of club to some of these greens. It makes it so much harder.''
Langer revealed he is using that 2 iron for the first time in about two years.
''The club's not rusty - I'm the one that's rusty,'' he joked.
Langer is playing at the Open for the first time since 2006. Since then, he has been starring on the senior's circuit, winning back-to-back majors (British Open and U.S. Open) in 2010.
For the past year, though, he has struggled because of the thumb injury, sustained in the autumn of last year in bizarre circumstances.
Riding on a bike to a beach in south Florida, he came to an intersection and reached out to push the button on the traffic signal, while he was still moving.
Attempting to press the button with the palm of his hand, he somehow tore a ligament in his left thumb.
Langer admitted Wednesday his thumb was still stiff.
''If I had been playing the last four months and been in good form like I had been the last three or four years, I'd probably be somewhat confident I could do well here. But that's not the case,'' Langer said.