THOSE of you who thrash, clatter and batter away at a little dimpled ball for recreational purposes will appreciate that this daft auld game can drive you round the bloomin’ twist.

At least we don’t have to worry about making a living from it. As for Robert MacIntyre? Well, his nail-nibbling, mind-mangling battle to make the cut here at the 150th Open Championship the other night certainly took a toll.

“I was sitting at the dinner table just slouched and I didn't know what to do,” he said of the emotional tumult that would’ve tested the mental fortitude of a Navy Seal. “I was trying to eat but I was just done. I could have curled up in a ball when I finished and cried.”

Thankfully, MacIntyre wasn’t left quaking and curled in the foetal position. He did survive the cut and emerged yesterday to post a three-under 69 to move to a three-under aggregate after 54-holes.

The late scramble to make it to the weekend, though, was still on his mind. Sitting right on the cut line with a few holes of his second round to play on Friday, MacIntyre’s position was as perilous as a high-wire act in a stiff breeze but he dug deep with brave, par-saving putts on the 16th and 17th to ensure he made his 10th cut in 10 major starts.

“Friday was big for me as I've never been that stressed on a golf course in my life,” reflected MacIntyre, who was doubly determined to qualify for the closing 36-holes after a morale-sapping early exit from last week’s Scottish Open. “I had to turn away from the actual fairway on 16 because there was too much going on. The fan support is absolutely brilliant, but I was feeling it.

“There are so many people supporting me and it means so much to me. I was trying so hard not to let them down but I was trying almost too hard.”

It was another golfing experience that will stand the Oban youngster in good stead. A year ago, MacIntyre made the cut on the limit at Sandwich and ended up finishing in the top-10 with a rousing weekend rally. Replicating that thrust is proving to be difficult as the various nuances of the Old Course continue to leave MacIntyre scratching his head like someone trying to fathom out The Herald’s cryptic crossword. “I've not mastered The Old Course yet,” the 25-year-old admitted after his five-birdie third round yesterday. “I don't know quite how to play a few holes and it's driving me insane right now.”

One hole he’ll be glad to see the back of will be the 13th. He’s played it in four-over this week. “In golf, there are some holes you love and some you hate and I’m afraid that’s one I hate,” he grimaced.

While MacIntyre inched up the field, David Law slithered back the way with a 77 which left the Open debutant on a two-over tally. A brace of rapid-fire double-bogeys didn’t help matters. “I got a bit unlucky on both of them,” he said of the bad breaks that are par for the course in the links game.

There was a late Scottish addition to day three when Scott Herald, one of the resident professionals at the St Andrews Links Trust, was asked to play as a marker for the final qualifier, Richard Mansell.

It was a day to remember for the Glasgow man. “I don’t know how many times I’ve stood on that first tee during my career here but this time it was goosebumps,” said Herald.