Colin Montgomerie saw his dream of winning the Open disappear for another year as he hit a closing 72 to finish on nine under at St Andrews.
The Scot had high hopes of overhauling Tiger Woods at the start of the day and was roared on by the packed galleries.
He started well with a birdie at the third and almost caught Woods but he narrowly missed an eagle putt.
But that was as close as he got as he made three bogeys in six holes while Woods surged clear to win by five.
The 42-year-old was in optimistic mood after completing his intrepid campaign.
It is the fourth time he has finished runner-up in a major - the last time coming in 1997 when Ernie Els pipped him to the US Open title.
"I will take positives from this," he said. "I am back in the position I was in the 90s.
"Things were not going well and it's nice to be back in this theatre.
"It's never a disgrace to lose to the best player of our generation by far."
The Ryder Cup star felt he was in a strong position to challenge Woods until he made a crucial error on the 11th.
"I was within one shot of Tiger at the turn and anything can happen.
"Unfortunately I hit the wrong club on the 11th when the wind switched and made bogey there.
"That threw me a bit and I didn't get the same momentum coming home," he said.
Montgomerie was treated to feverish support from the large galleries and he was appreciative of their efforts.
"The crowds were phenomenal," he enthused.
"Leaving the first tee was amazing, I thought I had won it before I started.
"I had a reasonable start and was one behind at the turn, but I hit a six-iron instead of a seven-iron at the 11th and that threw me.
"I said I wanted a 66 and 15 under was the target. It would have won, but the pin placings were very tough."