Luke Donald patently was not ready when he was thrown in with Tiger Woods at the 2003 Open championship. But this week looks different.
At Sandwich two years ago, Donald was not in the world's top 100, had played in only four Majors and had made the halfway cut in just one of them.
"I felt quite nervous on the first tee," he remembers. "But Tiger went right, lost a ball and made seven. I felt a bit better after that."
Nevertheless, with rounds of 76 and 79 he not surprisingly made another early exit.
Now the 27-year-old from High Wycombe appears to have come of age. Two wins late in the Ryder Cup race last year to earn himself a wild card pick, the perfect partner for Sergio Garcia in the record-breaking win, a World Cup triumph with Paul Casey and now this season second place in the Players Championship and third on his US Masters debut.
Woods, his playing partner again for the first two rounds of the US Open starting at Pinehurst today, has seen enough to make Donald the most likely European to threaten his own hopes of making it two wins out of two in the Majors this season and ten in all.
"The way he plays and the way he plods along I think he's got the greatest chance, yes," said the American, back this week as world No 1.
While calling somebody a plodder may not be the great compliment, it is the way US Opens are usually won.
But won usually, it has to be said, by non-Europeans. Tony Jacklin was the last to break the mould in 1970 and before him it was Scotland's Tommy Armour back in 1927.
No player from Europe has won any Major since Paul Lawrie at the 1999 Open. It is not getting any easier either with Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen such a formidable quintet at the head of the world rankings.
But just remember that Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and Todd Hamilton are among the list of winners since Lawrie's victory.
Donald is not daunted by the challenge ahead. Nor by his grouping now.
"I know Tiger better now. Obviously it's going to be a loud, big crowd and it's hard to get them to stay still when you are hitting," he said.
"But you've just got to try to put it in the back of your mind and maybe use the energy from the crowd."
Chris DiMarco, whom Woods beat in a play-off at Augusta in April, is the other member of the three-ball and Donald added: "I think it's a great grouping - the kind I want."
Pinehurst is somewhat different to other US Open venues in that short game skills come into it so much more because of the raised greens.
But accuracy, the big advantage Donald has over Woods, is still vitally important.
Casey added: "It's a course that will find out any flaws in your game. You've got to have control of the ball and you will have to be very strong mentally, as you do in all Majors. I believe Luke's ready."
Donald said: "I really like how the course looks. The rough is up and the greens are getting firmer and harder.
"I've had a very good year so far. I feel my game is improving every year and this year it feels like it has improved every month too."
Donald's rise to 12th in the world makes him the third leading European now.
Padraig Harrington is one place above him, but a missed cut on the US Tour last week has pushed the Dubliner out in the betting.
Sixth-ranked Garcia, on the other hand, won his sixth US Tour title at Congressional and the only thing counting against the 25-year-old Spaniard is that brilliant putting there does not camouflage the fact that his putting has been worse than average virtually everywhere else.
A record number of 24 Europeans are in the field, including debutants Stephen Gallacher, Graeme McDowell, Nick Dougherty, Simon Dyson, Jonathan Lomas, Portugal's Jose-Filipe Lima, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Swedes Carl Pettersson, Peter Hedblom and Peter Hanson.
Donald is playing only his second US Open - he was 18th at Bethpage in 2002 - and so are Ryder Cup teammates David Howell and Ian Poulter.