Rory McIlroy was left regretting a cold putter as his hopes of a second US Open win came up agonisingly short at Chambers Bay.
The world number one started the day eight shots adrift of the leading quartet and seemingly out of the championship picture.
But in a superb display of shot-making, the 26-year-old Northern Irishman rattled in six birdies in 13 holes, the last of which was a monster 70-foot putt.
At that stage he was just two shots shy of the lead, with some birdieable holes ahead.
Suddenly he looked capable of winning and also becoming the first man to score 62 in a major.
But a three-putt on the par-three 15th took the wind out of his sails and two holes later another dropped shot effectively ended his challenge.
— SuperSport Blitz (@SuperSportBlitz) June 22, 2015
He eventually settled for a 66 to stand at even par for the tournament.
No fifth major for McIlroy then, but he said there were plenty of positives to be taken from his week in the US Pacific Northwest.
“When I look back, obviously the last few holes of this golf course haven’t been kind to me all week. And when I look back at this tournament that’s where I’ll rue some missed opportunities,” he said.
“I feel like it’s sort of one that got away, especially the way I putted this week. I don’t think I’ve ever hit the ball as well in a major championship.”
— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) June 21, 2015
It’s the second major in a row that McIlroy has left himself with too much to do in the final round following his charge up the leaderboard to place fourth at the Masters in April.
That is something he said he will work hard on over the next few weeks ahead of the British Open at St Andrews in mid-July.
“Of course I take a lot of positives out of this,” he said.
“The long game is really in good shape. I’ve never hit the ball as good in a major championship for four rounds.
“I was really dialled in all week and confident with that. And if I can just get the putting a little bit better and roll a few more in and get a little bit of confidence with that going, I see nothing but positive signs for the next few months.”
Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy currently hold all four of golf’s major championships.
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) June 22, 2015
Next up for McIlroy will be another appearance in the Scottish Open in Gullane, East Lothian in two weeks time.
“I’ll go probably (to St Andrews) the weekend before the Scottish Open or even the Monday, Tuesday of the Scottish Open and play a couple of practice rounds,” he said.
Spieth supreme in US Open thriller
Jordan Spieth won the US Open at Chambers Bay on Sunday, two months after winning the Masters at Augusta National.
The 21-year-old Texan closed with a 69 for a five-under total of 275, one shot clear of fellow American Dustin Johnson (70) and South African Louis Oosthuizen (67).
Johnson had a four-foot putt at the last to force a 18-hole playoff on Monday but he missed it.
Spieth is the first man since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the Masters and the US Open in the same year, and the victory takes him halfway to winning all four majors in the same year, a feat no player has ever achieved before.
He is also the youngest champion of the US Open since the legendary Bobby Jones in 1923 and the youngest player to win two career majors since Gene Sarazen in 1922.
Spieth started the day in a share of the lead with four others but fell back with a bogey at the first.
He edged his way back into a share of the lead with Grace going down the back nine and a snaking 27-foot birdie putt at the 16th put him three clear with two to play as the South African hit out of bounds for a double bogey.
He took a double bogey of his own at the 17th but birdied the last to take the lead. Playing in the final pairing, Johnson reached the par-five green in two and had a 12-foot eagle putt to win his first major title.
That effort slipped agonisingly four feet past and he missed the one back to force the playoff.
Three players were tied for fourth – Australians Adam Scott (64) and Cameron Smith (68) and South African Branden Grace (71).
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