Chris DiMarco paid tribute to Open winner Tiger Woods after pushing his fellow American all the way in the final round at Hoylake.
DiMarco has now finished second in three major tournaments
DiMarco carded an impressive 68 but had to settle for second place, two shots behind the champion.
"Tiger just has an uncanny ability to, when somebody gets close to him, just turn it up another level," he said.
"I made a putt on 14 for par and he turns around and birdies 14, 15, 16. He is just tough to catch."
DiMarco started horribly with a bogey at the first but hit back to claim five birdies to finish on 16 under.
His performance was all the more impressive as the New Yorker's mother Norma died suddenly earlier this month.
"It was amazing to be able to feel her looking down on me. I felt my mom was there the whole week," he said.
"I love her, I miss her and I know I'll never see her again, but I know if I close my eyes I see her."
DiMarco's display puts him back on track to claim a place in the American team for this year's Ryder Cup.
"Once you have had a taste of playing in the Ryder Cup you don't want to miss out," he added. "So that is something I wanted to get down this week and I've done it."
Phil Mickelson blamed some poor putting for his inability to mount a serious challenge for Open glory at Hoylake.
"When I putt well I seem to have chances to win and I seemed to struggle on the greens this week," he said.
Mickelson says his putting let him down at Royal Liverpool
"I hit the ball very well today but I just couldn't get the ball in the hole. The pin positions were tough and that made it difficult to get close."
The 36-year-old American, the reigning Masters champion, carded a final-day 70 to finish the tournament on five under.
"The pin positions were very challenging - that would be putting it nice. It's not my call to say they were unfair but they were very difficult," he added.
Mickelson had spent more pre-tournament time on the Royal Liverpool links than any of his major rivals, declining an invitation to his usual warm-up at the Scottish Open.
Despite his frustration at the way things turned out, it is an approach he intends to largely stick with in the build-up to next year's event at Carnoustie.
"I learned a lot about how I'll prepare in 2007. I'll make some adjustments but the biggest thing is I must putt well," said the world number two.
Five-time Open champion Tom Watson fired two birdies in the final four holes to end the Open at Royal Liverpool on level par.
The 56-year-old American legend, with eight majors to his name, picked up shots at 15 and 16 to secure a one-under par 71.
Watson, paired with leading amateur Marius Thorp, received warm applause as he walked to the 18th green.
Watson refused to say if he would play at Carnoustie next year, adding: "I don't know how long I can keep coming to the Open. Carnoustie is too far in advance to talk about."
David Duval, who won the 2001 Open, carded a 71 to end on one over.
The 34-year-old recovered from a bogey at the first to reach the 16th at level par for the day.
Duval, who failed to make the Open cut in 2003 and 2005, eagled 16 for the second successive day although he dropped a shot at the next.
Todd Hamilton, Open champion at Royal Troon in 2004, had a nightmare final round as he finished the championship on seven over.
The 40-year-old birdied the fifth but had three bogeys around the turn before dropping five shots in his final four holes, including a double-bogey seven at the last, for a 78.
American Sean O'Hair fired the joint best round of the day with a 67. His four-round total of 281, seven under par, took him to tied 14th.