Tom Watson said missing out on a historic sixth British Open win in Turnberry on Sunday was as painful as any setback he has endured in his long career.
A bogey on the 72nd hole sent Watson into a play-off which fellow American Stewart Cink won comfortably to deny the 59-year-old his dream of becoming the oldest major winner in history.
“It would have been a hell of story but it wasn’t to be,” Watson reflected. “It is a great disappointment and it tears at your gut, just as it always has.
“I put myself in a position to win but I didn’t get it done at the last hole.”
Watson’s approach to the final green looked to be immaculate but it skipped through the green to the edge of the short rough, from where he three-putted for a bogey five.
With hindsight, he said he should have taken a nine rather than an eight iron.
“The play off was just one poor shot after another and Stewart did what he had to do to win, so congratulations to him,” Watson added.
“I’ll take from this week a lot of warmth and a lot of spirituality. There was something out there and it helped me along.”
A win here would have been extra special for Watson because it was at Turnberry in 1977 that he got the better of his great rival Jack Nicklaus in their ‘Duel in the Sun´ that has gone down in history as one of the great moments in sport.
Nicklaus famously wiped most of the details of that contest from his memory and Watson joked that he would be doing the same about this year.
“I have great memories of Turnberry and this would have been another great memory. Now I guess I will be like Jack and never remember what club I hit at any time.