Ernie Els insists he was delighted with his third place at the Open after struggling for form over the past year.
Els finished finished on -13, five shots behind winner Tiger Woods
The South African, who won the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2003, injured a knee last summer and, after surgery, spent five months out of the game.
"It is great news for me. It has been a long struggle for almost a year now so I have to be happy with that," he said.
"To play some decent golf again, especially in a major, is a thrill so I'm looking forward to the future."
Els slipped to number eight in the world after his period of inactivity, but hopes a sixth top-three finish in the last 11 Opens will inspire him to better things.
"I haven't been in the top 10 at majors for a while. It was great playing late over the weekend and playing decent golf," he added.
"I would have loved to have a win but I had to shoot 60-nothing today."
The pin positions were unbelievable... I would say some were borderline definitely
Els was reluctant to criticise the pin positions at Hoylake after Australian Adam Scott said they were close to being "Mickey Mouse".
But the "Big Easy" admitted they had made it difficult and complained he was not helped by the inconsistent speed of the greens.
"The pin positions were unbelievable. I would say some were borderline definitely - some were on slopes and if you got on the wrong side of the hole you had no chance," he said.
"But we can't criticise the R&A too much - they had to make the golf course tough. I just think the greens were a little inconsistent."
Scott saved his worst round for the final day at Hoylake
Scott was far more upset with the pin placements for Sunday's final round.
He got to 12 under with two to play only to bogey the 17th and then record a double-bogey six at the last.
He finished on nine under and in joint eighth - but he was critical of where the R&A had put some of the flags.
"All week they have been borderline," he said. "There are a couple I don't think they needed to go that far with, the 8th springs to mind and the 17th."
But Scott, who carded a 72, refused to be too downhearted.
"I played well this week," he said. "I played well enough to be right up there. It was a good week and I'm happy with the way I struck the ball.
"It was good for my confidence. I'm just trying to play well every week and, without the last two holes I would have been quite close."
Argentine Andres Romero played himself into contention with three straight birdies to stand 11 under after six.
But after a bogey at the ninth, the 25-year-old had three bogeys and two birdies on the back nine to finish on nine under.
South African Retief Goosen slumped to a one-over 73 to finish on seven under while Australian US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was a shot further back after a 72.
New Zealander Michael Campbell, who won the US Open in 2005, closed with a 70 to put him on two under.
His round contained two birdies and two bogeys as well as an eagle three at the 10th.