Adam Scott denied his remarkable late collapse was down to nerves after tossing away his chance of British Open glory with four bogeys in the last four holes in Sunday's closing round.
The 32-year-old Australian began the day four strokes clear of the field and maintained that cushion over his title rivals with six holes to play before his late blunders handed victory to South African Ernie Els.
"I was surprisingly calm the whole way round," world number 13 Scott told reporters after his five-over 75 gave him a six-under tally of 274 at Royal Lytham & St Annes, one behind 42-year-old Els.
"I was a little nervous on the first tee but less so than yesterday. I probably spent up all my nerves over the 24 hours leading up to playing today.
"It's funny, I definitely worked myself up a little bit at times, but once I was out there I felt completely in control and even the last few holes I didn't really feel like it was a case of nerves or anything like that," added Scott.
"It came down to hitting the ball, not making a couple of putts on the last four holes. If I make either of those on 15 or 16 it's a very different position and a lot more comfortable."
A three-foot par-saving effort by Scott agonisingly lipped out at the 16th before he hooked his approach into thick rough at the 17th and failed to hole out from 25 feet.
Then, at the final hole, he found a deep bunker off the tee and could only move his ball a few yards forward. Bravely, he struck a sumptuous approach to eight feet but his putt rolled past the hole.
"It was a very sloppy finish ... and disappointing to finish that way," said Scott who was bidding to win his first major. "I played so well all week.
"I wasn't even really out of position but I managed to get myself in some trouble and couldn't make the putts to get out of it over the last four holes.
"But that's what was to be expected coming in here. It's a championship golf course, it's very difficult."
Scott said he and Els shared a few words before the presentation ceremony.
"Ernie said he felt for me and not to beat myself up," the Australian explained. "He said I'm a great player and I can go on to win majors which is nice.
"We have a close friendship. We've had some good battles in the past and it's nice to hear that from him. I respect Ernie a lot, he's a player who is a worthy champion for sure."
Scott has won eight times on each of the US and European tours and was bidding to become the first Australian to lift the Claret Jug since Greg Norman in 1993.
"I know I've let a really great chance slip through my fingers today but somehow I'll look back and take the positives from it," he said.
"I don't think I've ever played this well in a major championship so that's a good thing for me moving forward. All the stuff I'm doing is going in the right direction.
"Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet," added Scott. "Maybe there will be a bit more disappointment when I get home and wind down.
"I feel fine at the moment but I'm a positive guy. I'm optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for the next time I'm out on the course."
Published Date: Jul 23, 2012 10:52 am | Updated Date: Jul 23, 2012 11:16 am