Marc Leishman lost in a playoff, Jason Day finished a shot short and Adam Scott dropped five strokes in his final five holes in more heartache for Australians at the British Open.
Throughout Monday’s tense rain-delayed final round, hopes were high that an Australian would lift the Claret Jug for the first time since Greg Norman in 1993.
Day, Scott and Leishman all held the lead at some stage on the Old Course at St Andrews but failed to deliver the ultimate prize as American Zach Johnson won golf’s oldest tournament in a playoff.
Leishman fared best after he carded a six-under 66 to finish at 15-under overall and join a three-man, four-hole playoff with Johnson and 2010 St Andrews winner Louis Oosthuizen.
The Victorian fired a blistering 64 the day before, producing one of the great final two rounds in major history.
But after driving into a divot on the first extra hole he was forced to go long into the green to avoid the burn, and then three-putted for bogey as the others made birdie.
From there he was chasing his tail and ended three short of Johnson three holes later.
That makes four playoff losses for Australians at the tournament in 40 years. The last time we had a winner was Peter Thomson over Dave Thomas in 1958.
“I’m pretty disappointed at the minute, having a chance to win it and not being able to take it, but that’s golf, unfortunately,” Leishman said.
“There was three of us in the playoff and there could only be one winner. Yeah, I’m disappointed, but I’m happy with the way I played all week.”
Leishman will rue a missed four-foot par putt on the 16th hole of regulation and even a 20-foot birdie chance on the 72nd hole that stayed out on the left side.
Day (70) – who shared the overnight lead – fell one shot short of the playoff at 14-under, taking his major championship top-10 tally to 10 from 20 majors.
While he didn’t make any final-round mistakes, the man who averages a birdie every four holes could only muster two, making 12 straight pars to finish.
A 25-foot attempt to make the playoff on the 72nd hole was tracking for the cup but stopped a foot short.
“I read the putt on 18, just to do what I expected it to do,” Day said.
“I hit a good putt. All I wanted to do was put a good stroke on it.
“I didn’t want to blast it way past the hole and hit it through the break, so I just wanted to hit my normal putt and try and hole it.
“Unfortunately I thought it was a little bit faster, and it just pulled up short.
“I gave myself chances out there. A couple of holes I wish I would have liked some shots back, but that’s just part and parcel of playing.”
Scott’s British Open demons surfaced again with another back-nine collapse that added to his 2012 and 2013 collapses.
The former world No.1 took down the opening nine at the Old Course in five-under 31 and then birdied the 10th to jump to 15-under to join the lead.
But he played his last five holes in five-over: bogey on the 14th, a missed putt from one foot on the 15th, another bogey on the 17th and a double bogey to finish after driving the ball out of bounds.
He dropped all the way back to 10-under in a tie for 10th.
“It’s hard to digest it all at the moment,” Scott said.
“To miss a really short putt I don’t really have an explanation for that. I just went up to tap it in from a foot and it lipped out.”
“Just one of those stupid things that happens, and that really put me in a tough position.”
Marcus Fraser (-7), Steven Bowditch (-6), Matt Jones (-6), Geoff Ogilvy (-5), John Senden (-5), Scott Arnold (-5), Greg Chalmers (-3), Brett Rumford (even) rounded out the Australian tilt.
BRITISH OPEN HEARTACHES
2015 – St Andrews – Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Jason Day all hold the lead at a point in final round. Leishman loses playoff, Day pars the final 12 holes to miss by a shot, Scott coughs up five strokes in five holes.
2013 – Muirfield – Adam Scott hits the lead with seven holes to play in the final round but bogeys three straight from the 13th to fall away.
2012 – Royal Lytham and St Annes – Adam Scott plays near flawless golf and has a four shot lead with four to play. He bogeys all four, losing by a shot.
2009 – Turnberry – Matt Goggin has a chance to take the thunder away from Tom Watson but leaves that to Stewart Cink after three consecutive bogeys on 13-15.
2008 – Royal Birkdale – Greg Norman, now a veteran, takes a two shot lead into the back nine on Sunday only to make four bogeys coming home and finish tied third.
2002 – Muirfield – Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby lose in a playoff to Ernie Els.
1999 – Carnoustie – Craig Parry finishes just shy of a playoff after making a double bogey on the 17th hole.
1995 – St Andrews – Steve Elkington shoots 74 in the final round to lose by two.
1989 – Royal Troon – Greg Norman and Wayne Grady enter a four hole playoff with Mark Calcavecchia. Norman makes a meal of the final two holes to give the American the Jug.
1987 – Muirfield – Rodger Davis comes up one shot short of Nick Faldo.
1985 – Royal St Georges – David Graham takes co-lead into final round but shoots five-over 75 to lose by two.
1975 – Carnoustie – Jack Newton loses a playoff to Tom Watson.