If John Bickerton could have played only Royal Liverpool's back nine all week he might have ended up challenging Tiger Woods for the Claret Jug, writes Ged Scott.
Instead, the French Open champion will enjoy a much-needed fortnight's rest reflecting on what might have been.
Playing with five-times Open champion Tom Watson on Saturday, Bickerton was inspired into producing another of his barnstorming finishes, firing birdies at 16, 17 and 18 to move to four under for the tournament.
But it all rapidly went wrong yesterday lunchtime when he fell away with a four-over 76, thanks to an outward 39. This time, his penchant for Hoylake's final four holes (for which he was an astonishing ten under for the week) could not save him.
Bickerton at least came home in level par, to be nine under for the week on the back nine - that on the front nine too would have won him the Open. Although still smiling his way through, Bicker-ton was typically more concerned with where it had all gone wrong.
"I just got off to a bad start with my putter," the now Germany-based Worcestershire golfer said. "And I simply lost my confidence on the greens.
"I missed a couple early on in and I found two bunkers off the tee. When you're in them, you're dead. You invariably have to play out sideways.
"But I've no complaints. I've now played five weeks in a row and feel a bit jaded but it's just great to play in the Open."
To be tied for 48th, and pocketing a cheque for £11,500, was his best Open finish, an improvement on last year at St Andrews, when, on the previous time he had made the cut, he tied for 60th.
Sheer tiredness, a painful neck injury that needs further attention and a wish to spend some time with six-year-old son George means he will miss the next two Tour events before playing in the Dutch Open at Kennemer on August 10. He said: "I'm still not certain of a place in the USPGA as I've got to stay in the world top 100 and I'm now 93rd, which could change in the next two weeks. But sometimes golf has to be put in the background.
"Some things are more important. And I can't wait to see George. He's flying out to see me in Germany next week and I'm sure he's looking forward to spending some of this week's winnings. He doesn't go short, believe me."