For the second year in a row he left without the Claret jug. Even the green jacket he won in between at the Masters could not ease the sting of this one. “I think the disappointing thing is this one I felt I wasted a little bit,” Scott said. “I would have liked to be in at the end and no-one was, actually. It’s a shame.”
No-one was because Phil Mickelson closed so strongly he likely would have won the Open no matter what Scott or any of his fellow competitors did. But three straight bogeys on the back nine sealed the fate of the Masters champion, eliminating him from contention before he even had a shot at making a late run.
“I let a great chance slip, I felt, during the middle of the round and that’s disappointing,” Scott said. “Had I played a little more solid in the middle of that back nine I could have had a chance coming in.”
Playing in the next-to-last group with Tiger Woods, Scott made a run at the lead when he sank a long putt on the eighth hole for birdie, then followed it with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 ninth. When he added yet another birdie on the short par-4 11th he was suddenly in the lead with seven holes to go.
Nothing new there. Last year at the Open at Lytham, Scott had a four-shot lead with four holes to play and all that seemed left to do was prepare his victory speech. It quickly unravelled, though, with Scott finishing with a string of bogeys in one of the great collapses in golfing history. The image of his knees buckling when he missed a 7-foot putt to force a play-off with Ernie Els lingers still.
Sunday’s back nine slide paled by comparison. Once again, though, Scott began making bogeys and soon someone else was holding the Open trophy. It began with a bad shot into the grassy dunes right of the 13th green that Scott almost got away with when he hit a great pitch to seven feet. But the putt lipped out, beginning a string of three straight bogeys that took him out of contention.
Scott’s disappointment in a wasted opportunity was tempered by the fact Mickelson shot a five-under 66 to finish the tournament at three-under-par. But Scott was two-under himself after the 11th hole, and it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that he might have made a few more birdies coming in.
By the time Scott rolled in a final 20-footer on the last hole for birdie, Mickelson was doing interviews and signing autographs off the final green. Scott finished four shots back, tied for third with third-round leader Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
After he lost the Open last year, Scott said it he would learn from the experience. Despite missing again, he said he did. “I’m happy with my week, other than I didn’t win,” he said. “But I lived up to my expectations of putting myself in contention with a chance. And it will just have to go down in the experience book and something to build on again.”