Rory McIlroy said he was simply beaten by the better player on Sunday as Cameron Smith shot a stunning 64 to prolong the Northern Irishman's eight-year wait to add to his majors haul at the British Open.
Despite not dropping a shot, McIlroy was left to regret a series of birdie putts slipping by the hole as his 70 to reach 18-under-par was still two shots behind Smith's record-equalling tally at a British Open.
"I got beaten by the better player this week. To shoot 64 to win an Open Championship at St Andrews is one hell of a showing, so hats off to Cam, he's had an unbelievable week," said McIlroy.
The world number two was in pole position to win his second British Open as he shared the overnight lead with Viktor Hovland, four shots clear of Smith.
But the 33-year-old's wait to add to the four majors he won between 2011 and 2014 goes on.
"I had a great opportunity today to add to that major tally and I didn't quite get it done," added McIlroy.
"I didn't feel like I did many things wrong, but the putter went cold on me throughout the round.
"I did what I wanted to do. I played a really controlled round of golf. I didn't take advantage of the holes I had been taking advantage of this week."