Peter Hanson talked up a new-found “focus and motivation” after beginning the final Major Championship of the year with a three under par 69.
Despite putting together a string of eye-catching performances in the first four months of the 2012 season – the most impressive of which came with a tied third finish at the Masters Tournament in early April – the big Swede has struggled somewhat of late.
However, after a first round that featured five birdies and just the two dropped shots Hanson was pleased that his form was returning in the week of such a salubrious event as the US PGA Championship.
“I'm playing better and actually the first time in a long time felt it could be a lower score than I actually posted. If I can keep that up for the next three days, I'll be very happy,” said Hanson.
“Things have been starting to come together, but even last week I felt that I was playing kind of decent while still only finishing towards the end of the field so that wasn’t a huge confidence boost.
“But it’s nice to get off to a good start here.”
After starting from the tenth tee, Hanson’s driving was supreme over the first 18 holes of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island as the four-time European Tour Champion found 13 of 14 fairways from the tee.
“I felt very steady,” he continued. “I was hitting good off the tee, controlling the iron shots, and shaping it both ways.
“I've been putting quite well lately even though I've been struggling with my long game. Especially off the tee I've been finding it hard and now I can shape it better both ways which you need around here, especially if we get wind.”
The 34 year old has already proved he has a game for the big events with top five finishes in the first two World Golf Championships earlier this year, and Hanson attributed his success to an improved mental outlook for golf’s showpiece tournaments.
“The Majors and World Golf Championship events definitely bring out a little bit more focus and motivation. And on the other hand if you come into these weeks and you're not playing well it can quickly go the opposite way.
“These weeks you need to be 100 per cent. And all of the work I've put in the last four or five weeks, hopefully it's starting to pay off.
“There’s still a long way to go but it would be nice to get back to where I know I can be and with a chance to finish high up the leaderboard and be able to compete.”
Hanson has an extra incentive to place well in the season’s final Major Championship as he currently sits in a tentative eighth automatic Ryder Cup qualification spot.
With plenty of the chasing pack also in the field at Kiawah Island looking to track him and the other bubble boys Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia down as the race to make José María Olazábal's team comes towards its climax, Hanson will be all too aware how valuable a top ten finish could be this week in South Carolina.