Forget the locker room or the clubhouse. Golfers, according to Russell Knox at least, can be found in somewhere broadly equivalent to the Bates Motel.

“We are all psychos, we are,” said Russell Knox with a smile as the golf writers slowly inched backwards fearing some kind of frenzied Hitchcockian shower scene in the mixed zone interview area. “To play this game for a living makes you that way.”

Golf, of course, has always mangled the mind but Knox is thinking clearly this week and a three-under 68 on the third day of The Open Championship here at Royal Portrush helped ease him up the leaderboard in what is set to be his best effort in golf’s oldest major.

A late flourish, which saw him birdie the last two holes, put an extra spring in his step. Knox was walking tall but this fickle old game can quickly have you trudging about again with the shoulders at half mast. Knox knows that.

“We always judge ourselves on our best and that’s not fair on any of us,” said the Inverness exile who is the leading Scot in the world rankings.

“If I average 71 and I shoot 71, that’s my average. If I shoot 68, then I walk home thinking I’m better than my average. We’ve all seen our best. Shane [Lowry] has won, JB [Holmes] has won, I’ve won, so you know where you can be.

“But is it realistic to think that’s your norm? You have to look at yourself as normal and if it gets better, then great.

“I think I’m a better player now than a couple of years ago. That was a time when I was still doubting myself a lot. I was making a couple of terrible swings a round. I haven’t doubted myself much this week. I’ve hit a lot of good shots and I think I’m the best I’ve ever been at the moment.”

Knox had missed the cut in three of his last four Open appearances and the double PGA Tour winner is still hoping to beat his best finish in a major, which was a share of 12th in the US Open last year. His best finish in The Open, meanwhile, is a tie for 30th.

“My goal every major is that I have my best major finish,” he said. “To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t beat my Open best this week as

I know I’m swinging well. The course suits my eye, so I’m going to give it my everything.

“I’ve played probably 200 events as a pro and won three. Realistically, you are not standing on a first tee thinking, ‘Right, I’m going to win’. It does happen, but you stand on the tee and say you want your best finish.

“If I’m standing on the first tee and thinking, ‘I hope I finish 40th, then I’m in trouble’. A top 10 in a major is the next big step for me and I’d love to do it this week.”

As Knox moved up, Robert MacIntyre was left lamenting his putting again after a level-par 71 left him on the two-under mark.

He missed decent chances early on to make gains and the general lack of success on the greens generated much muttering and cursing.

“It was just the same old story,” he said. “I’m just getting down on myself with my putting. I feel I’m hitting it good but I need to get the belief back in it.

“The pace putting is as good as it’s been in a long time. I just can’t get the wee ball in the hole.”

It’s a daft game . . .