Victorian Stuart Appleby emerged from the golfing wilderness with a striking opening to the Texas Open.
Appleby, who has been struggling with injury and has tried to make his way back to the Tour via the web.com circuit, fired an opening round 67 to be in second spot.
The veteran kept in the mix until he was undone by a third round 74. He eventually finished tied for 21st – the best of the Australians – at six under the card and six shots off the pace set by winner Charley Hoffman.
Appleby said his main issue was with his ball striking which denied him the chance to pick up shots. His putting has also been lagging a little.
"I hit the ball solid but around here that doesn't sort of mean a lot unless you make putts," Appleby said.
"I hit it close enough where I made a few…. there were a couple of tough ones but I rolled it well."
The veteran pro said he was aiming to group together birdies and his opening round in Texas was a good sign he is on the right track.
"Overall, a solid round. I've had a lot of rounds where I might have one birdie and a bogey and a bunch of pars so it goes nowhere," he said.
"I'm trying to have rounds where I can make four, five birdies a round and today was that.
"I was hitting it pretty good. Ball-striking has been lacking a lot. That really makes a big difference. You don't make cuts with that. Tough to build on that."
One thing Appleby has become acutely aware of on his return to the US PGA Tour was the length off the tee of his rivals.
"I drove the ball well and that was nice – if you don't hit it straight and short, it's an awful game.
"I was certainly the shortest of the hitters in the group today and so you have to be accurate around here.
"As the shortest I was going first and with with longer irons so you've got to be accurate if you're going to give up yardage to the long hitters.
"Long hitters now hit it straight as well most of the time, too, and hit a lot of greens with short irons," he said.
Appleby described his round as "a good start" but said he now needed to "build and make something evolve into your game and work in areas that need a bit of tidying up."
"I haven't done anything great," he said.
"I've been trying to scratch around, make pars with my putter. That's hard work. Hitting it short and crooked is not going to help a lot. And not hitting greens, it's really, really tough.
"So I've got to hit it short and straight and got to get my irons going and see if I can hit enough greens in regulation and get some rhythm into making some opportunities to make birdies."