By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Alvaro Quiros had the golfing world at his feet in 2011 but the big-hitting Spaniard seems a tortured soul these days and it is clear his self belief has been battered by three seasons of toil and pain.
Quiros triumphed six times in a golden spell between 2007 and 2011, the highlight victory coming at the prestigious end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai four years ago.
He used to interact regularly with the crowd but the frowns have replaced the smiles in recent seasons, hardly surprising given that he has tumbled from 21st to 282nd in the world rankings.
"It's been a very frustrating time," the 6-foot-4 (1.91-metre) Quiros told Reuters in an interview after posting a four-under-par 68 for a two-under total of 142 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Friday.
"In 2012 I tried to change my swing a little bit to be more consistent. I worked harder than ever but all I could find were bogeys.
"The mistake I made I think were with my expectations. I was expecting to get better at that time in my career, to become more consistent, but instead of enjoying my golf I was suffering because my game was not good," said Quiros.
"Then in October 2012 I had an operation on my wrist. I came back in April 2013 and even when physically speaking I was perfect, the problem was not the surgery, it was that I was still thinking inside my head only of my bad scores."
The bearded Quiros gave a glimpse in Friday's second round at Wentworth of how things used to be, reeling off three birdies in six holes before ramming home a 40-foot eagle putt at the last and celebrating with a wide grin and flamboyant fist pump.
The 32-year-old finds it difficult to keep expectations in check especially as he knows better than anyone else that he is not the golfer he once was.
"I'm sure during the old times I used to enjoy my golf more," said Quiros. "It's difficult to keep a smile on my face now and that's why I think I'm struggling to score.
"I'm playing well but I'm scoring poorly and that's because my attitude is not the attitude of someone who enjoys the good and the bad things that happen on the course.
"Of course you are never going to enjoy making bogeys or double bogeys but you have a choice. You can just accept it and carry on or you can start blaming yourself and that's why I'm struggling," said Quiros.
"I'm complaining to myself about why I'm not doing that good. You could call them demons in my mind."
Quiros, who came close to qualifying for Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2010 and 2012, said he could relate to the problems now being experienced by former world number one Tiger Woods and by former tennis number one Rafa Nadal.
"The key is to lower expectations," he explained. "Look at Tiger for example.
"Everyone expects Tiger to be the player he used to be. Maybe in that atmosphere, it's why he is struggling too.
"Rafa Nadal is the same, he is struggling right now and everyone is expecting him to get back to the top. That is something that is not going to happen easily."
Quiros had a spell when he featured regularly in the majors and World Golf Championship (WGC) events -- not any more.
Asked if his immediate aim was to return to the upper echelons of the sport, he replied: "No, no, no, that's too far away. If I thought like that at number 282 in the world I would be very stupid.
"First I have to find a way to make cuts consistently and try to play at the weekends rather than think it's an opportunity to win tournaments because I'm not in a position mentally speaking to win tournaments.
"I believe I belong up there, no doubt. It wasn't one year that I spent in the top 50 in the world, it was four years playing WGC events, playing in America, playing in majors.
"The good thing about the old me is that when I was hot, I was very hot but we are talking about the ability that Alvaro Quiros used to have. The last three years we can't say he's the same person."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)