As Ernie Els charged through the closing stretch to the 2012 Open Championship, by posting four birdies on the back nine at Royal Lytham and St. Annes this afternoon, Adam Scott lost his rhythm just when he needed it the very most. Four dropped shots over the last four holes of the Open saw Scott finish runner-up to Els by a single shot.

While Scott’s second-place finish is the best result in a Major so far in his career, he will have to cope with the anguish of getting so close to grasping the Claret Jug before he can appreciate the progress he is making.

“It was a very sloppy finish by me,” admitted Scott after his round. “I managed to get myself in some trouble and couldn’t make the putts to get out of it on the last four holes. But that’s what was to be expected coming in here. It’s a championship golf course – it’s very difficult – and you’ve got to play some good shots to win these golf tournaments, and I wasn’t able to do that.”

Scott missed short putts for par on the 15th and 16th holes, but the shot he was most disappointed with was his approach to the 17th green, which hooked into thick greenside rough, leading to the third for four consecutive closing bogeys.

“It all comes down to the shot into 17 for me, that I’m most disappointed with,” added Scott. “At that point I was still well in control of the tournament, and if I had hit a nice shot somewhere to the right of the hole I could go to the last with the lead. So that was pretty disappointing.”

Having been the outstanding performer of the 2012 Open Championship for 68 of 72 holes, it is a brutal punishment for Scott to absorb.

Philosophical words from 2011 champion Darren Clarke may resonate with Scott, as Clarke remembers falling just shy of winning the 1996 Open at Royal Lytham: “The game may look pretty easy when you see Tour professionals play golf, but our game is tough and it can bite you at any stage. When you have a golf course as tough as Royal Lytham, with so many bunkers, the slightest missed shot or mental mistake can take you out of a tournament, and that is just the
nature of our game.

“The game gives and the game takes, and you have got to fail before you can succeed at the highest level. That is part of the process out here.”

Scott will take a week off before defending his title in the WBC Bridgestone Invitational, at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio, which starts on August 2. It could be the ideal tournament for his return to action.

Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the 2012 Open Championship. The new Mercedes-Benz City Golf App is now available on iTunes.