Ernie Els consoled himself with a third place at the Open Championship after enduring a miserable 12 months by his standards.
The popular South African, who was the winner of the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2003, injured a knee in a watersports accident last summer and, after surgery, he was out of the game for five months.
Since then he has struggled to recapture the form which also saw him win two US Open titles.
He was able to card only a one-under-par 71 compared to the 67 by world No 1 Tiger Woods - allowing a two-shot deficit after seven holes to become five at the 11th.
But he was satisfied with a sixth top-three finish in the last 11 Opens.
He said: "I have got to be happy with that. A win would be great but maybe a top-three finish is not all that bad.
"I haven't been in the top ten at majors for a while. It was great playing late over the weekend and playing decent golf.
"It is great news for me. It has been a long struggle for almost a year now.
"To play some decent golf again, especially in major tournaments, is really a thrill so I'm looking forward to the future again.
"I would have loved to have a win but I had to shoot 60-nothing today."
Els, who has slipped to world No 8, accepted that his chance of victory slipped away around the turn.
"At eight, nine, ten and 11. That four-hole stretch is not a very tough stretch but I made two bogeys (at eight and 11) instead of two birdies," he said.
"If I had played them in two under rather than two over I had half a chance but Tiger played excellently."
Els was reluctant to criticise the pin positions on the final day although Australian Adam Scott said they were close to being "Mickey Mouse", but said it had made it difficult to score well and complained he was not helped by the inconsistent speed of the greens.
He added: "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.
"Except for four holes, 14 were borderline.
"But the thing is today, unfortunately, some greens were slower, some were quicker; every green was different and it was difficult to adapt.
"But we can't criticise the R&A too much over this - we had some great weather all week and they had to make the golf course tough because it was playing tough.
"I just think the greens were a little inconsistent today."