Todd Hamilton reflected on a "terrible" run of results since his shock 2004 Open victory after carding an encouraging first-round 69 at Muirfield.
The American pulled off a huge upset at Troon nine years ago when he edged out Ernie Els in a play-off, but his first major title failed to lead to a sustained spell of success.
The 47-year-old has now lost his playing privileges on the PGA Tour and plys his trade on the second-tier Web.com Tour, but he put himself on course for decent cheque this week after a solid four-birdie opener - his best score in the Open since his victory.
Hamilton said: "This game is a lot about confidence, any sport is really. You can watch a guy in the NBA one night go 10 for 11, next night he's one for 15. So I've had a lot of one for 15s the last few years."
Asked how he reflected on the past nine years, he said: "Terrible. I try not to reflect on it. It's been trying, I guess. There have been days when I didn't want to play.
"I definitely thought my golfing career would have been better after that than it was.
"Looking back, though, I had done a lot of good things overseas at places that people probably wouldn't know that golf even exists. I played a lot in Japan, I played a lot in Asia.
"So when I won the Open I was kind of at the end. I think I was 38, so I was kind of at the end or close to the end of the decent career."
Hamilton was in the second group out in benign conditions at Muirfield, and he added: "I enjoyed it. I do enjoy this style of golf. I think it takes a person that is very happy with not only their game, but themselves.
"You've got to be very confident and do stuff that you feel you can do, otherwise you try to chase the game."