Adam Scott promised to bounce straight back at next month’s US PGA championship, but only after confessing to throwing away the British Open in tragic Greg Norman-esque fashion.
‘‘I don’t know what else you can make of it,’’ Scott conceded after squandering a four-stroke lead with four holes to play at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
As a 15-year-old, Scott was at home on the Gold Coast in tears watching on TV as Norman fell on his own sword at Augusta in 1996, submitting to Nick Faldo after opening the final round six shots in front.
Cruelly, Scott’s own demise is already being likened to Norman’s collapse — with one insensitive tweeter labelling him ‘‘Guppy Shark’’ - and the 32-year-old admitted comparisons were inevitable after his dramatic capitulation over the final stages at the Open.
Like Norman at Augusta, Scott played majestically over the first three days on Lytham’s bunker-strewn links layout. He built a four-shot lead heading into Sunday after surging to 11 under with a course record-equalling first-round 64 then 67-68, his 54-hole total one stroke shy of the lowest in the Open’s 152-year history.
As his challengers — the great Tiger Woods included — came and went on Sunday, Scott still had his four-shot buffer after a birdie on No 14.
It looked all over, even if Scott dared not to think his first major was ‘‘in the bag’’.
It most certainly wasn’t as Scott inexplicably took bogeys on the last four holes and South African Ernie Els stormed home with four under on the back nine to slip under the Australian’s guard and snare his second Open title and fourth career major.
Scott insisted he felt no nerves, that he ‘‘felt extremely calm‘‘, but yet still put his approach into the greenside pot on 15 and then three-putted for the first time all tournament on 16. His metre-long attempt for par was Shark-like as it spun around and out of the hole.
‘‘The 16th hurt, missing that putt,’’ Scott said.
The 17th hurt more. After a beautiful tee shot, he turned over his six-iron from 178 yards into the rough left and was unable to get up and down. Suddenly Scott’s lead had evaporated.
On 18, needing a par for a four-hole playoff, Scott drilled a three wood ‘‘real hot and straight’’ into a fairway bunker, chipped out virtually sideways before giving himself a 10-footer chance.
‘‘At the start of the week, you give me that 10-foot for a playoff, I’m going to take it,’’ Scott said. ‘‘One of these days I’ve got to step up and make it.’’
Asked if he now knew how Norman felt, Scott said: ‘‘I guess so, yeah.
‘‘I mean, look, Greg was my hero when I was a kid and I thought he was a great role model, how he handled himself in victory and defeat.
‘‘He set a good example for us. It’s tough; you don’t want to sit here and have to ... I can’t justify anything that I’ve done out there.
‘‘I didn’t finish the tournament well today. But next time — I’m sure there will be a next time — and I can do a better job of it.’’
Scott will now return to his Swiss base for a week off to lick his wounds before getting back to business at his title defence at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio.
Then he ‘‘absolutely’’ believes he can land his elusive maiden major at the PGA at Kiawah Island starting on August 9.
‘‘My game is in fantastic shape,’’ Scott said. ‘‘I’ve probably never been more confident and maybe that’s something to learn from today.
‘‘Even when you’re playing that good, you just need to make sure the percentages are in your favour when you’re coming down the stretch like that.
‘‘If I could have it all over again, I wish I’d aimed a little further right on 17.’’
Just as Norman probably wishes he could start so many shots all over again too.