It's one thing to stink it up at the U.S. Open, as so many of the world's best golfers do every year.
It's another thing entirely to climb out of a big hole in the early rounds to make the cut, much less contend.
Especially at a course as difficult as the Olympic Club in San Francisco, and especially when you've dug a hole as deep as these three have.
Which struggling star will have the worst round on Friday?
Remember when Rory McIlroy destroyed the field at Congressional and set all sorts of U.S. Open records in the process?
Yeah, I almost don't either and, apparently, neither does he. The reigning U.S. Open champ played like anything but on Thursday, shanking his way to a seven-over 77 on Thursday.
And it's not as though that was exactly an anomaly, either. Rory's failed to finish better than 25th at a Major since last year's U.S. Open and missed the cut at The Players Championship and the Memorial before finishing seventh at the St. Jude Classic last weekend.
Don't be surprised, then, if golf's "Golden Boy" loses more of his luster on Friday and, if he makes the cut, struggles to hang within smelling distance of the trophy over the weekend.
McIIroy and Luke Donald have spent much of the last year competing for the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, but look better suited to battling for the bottom of the barrel after one day at the Olympic Club.
McIlroy and Donald shared a group on Thursday, but it was Donald, the top-ranked player in the world, who came up with the worse score. The crafty Brit entered the clubhouse at nine shots over par by virtue of a 79 (devoid of even a single birdie).
Donald has a habit of falling behind early and making a good show of it late in majors, as he did in the Masters this year and the PGA Championship last year.
He may make a comeback of some sort, but if it doesn't come on Friday, then the No. 1 golfer in the world won't have a chance to do so over the weekend.
There's a lot to like about Bubba Watson—his unorthodox swing, his unusual mode of dress and his Southern drawl.
As for his eight-over 78 on Thursday? Eh, not so much.
The Masters champion wound up with seven bogies and a double bogey in his opening round, hitting all of eight greens and a woeful five of 14 fairways.
Watson's enjoyed a strong year so far, but after missing the cut at the Memorial, it wouldn't be a complete and total surprise to see him do the same at the Olympic Club.
Though, in historical terms, he'd be the first "Green Jacket" winner to fall short of the weekend at the ensuing U.S. Open since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994.
U.S. Open Leaderboard Top 10
|1. Michael Thompson||-4||F|
|T2. Graeme McDowell||-1||F|
|T2. Nick Watney||-1||F|
|T2. Justin Rose||-1||F|
|T2. Tiger Woods||-1||F|
|T2. David Toms||-1||F|
|T7. Jim Furyk||E||F|
|T7. Matt Kuchar||E||F|
|T7. Ian Poulter||E||F|
|T7. Beau Hossler||E||F|
Click here for the full U.S. Open leaderboard.