Rory McIlroy insists he won’t have nightmares about the crushing eight over 80 that cost him the Claret Jug.
But the Ulsterman, 21, couldn’t help wondering what might have been as he closed with a birdie to card a 68 and share third place on eight under par - eight shots behind winner Louis Oosthuizen
Trying hard to look on the bright side and his probably rise to seventh in the world today, McIlroy recalled his Friday meltdown and said: “It’s not going to give me nightmares.
“I’m sure I’ll wake up in the morning and just look the fact I was 16 under for three rounds of golf around St Andrews in the Open and had just one bad round - it’s fine.
“I couldn’t help but think about it going up the last hole. You know, if I had just sort of stuck in a little bit more on Friday and held it together more, it could have been a different story.
“But the other three rounds I played very solidly. After that 80 I felt as if I came back well by shooting seven-under at the weekend.”
The world No 9 set the Open alight with a sensational 63 on day one before an eight over par second round sent him tumbling out of contention.
He battled back brilliantly with a 69 on Saturday before finishing with a super 68 to equal his best ever major finish.
But he’s impatient for success and can’t wait to tee it up in the US PGA at Whistling Straits next month.
He said: “I knew that I had a good chance coming in here, and it was nice to be up there for a while.
“I’m still a bit disappointed to be honest, because I know if I could have played anywhere decent on Friday, I could have been a lot closer to the lead.”
Glancing at a nearby TV, he saw that pal Louis Oosthuizen had an eight shot lead on 17 under and said: “I’m not saying that I could have got to 17 under, but I definitely could have been contending for second place anyway.
“When you start off shooting 63 in any golf tournament, you fancy your chances going into the next three days. It just so happened to be it got very windy on Friday and I just didn’t deal with it very well.
“It’s always satisfying to be up there in a major, but in these circumstances after starting so well, I suppose it is a little bit disappointing that I haven’t gone on to challenge a little bit more.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, he said: “I’ve got a week off to kind of chill and then it’s Irish Open, the WGC in Akron and the US PGA. It’s a big summer of golf, and I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
McIlroy wasn’t the only Irish hero at St Andrews with Offaly star Shane Lowry delighted with his major debut despite letting a top-10 finish slip away.
A closing 75 saw him crash from 12th overnight to tied 37th on one-under par, but he’s certain to move into the world’s top-80 today and clinch his place in next month’s US PGA.
Believing his day will come in future majors, Lowry said: “It’s been a great week here. I am really happy with the way thing went even though things didn’t go my way today.
“I learnt a lot and I have a lot to take into more majors and more tournaments.”
Lowry bogeyed the 15th and double bogeyed the 17th before finishing in style with his fourth successive birdie at the 18th.
He beamed: “Major Sundays are where it happens and it is great to be playing. Walking up 18 was a bit fo a thrill for me.
“As a young lad, you watch the Open and you hope that some day that’s you and it was today.
“It’s been a great week and I will remember it for as long as I live, I suppose.”
He knows that if he continues to improve, he will get his chance to join Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell in the winner’s enclosure some day.
He said: “I have to look for the positives from this week in general. I handled myself very well all week for my first major and I am really please with the way things went.
“I was surprised how comfortable I felt out there even though today I didn’t play great.”
Graeme McDowell held on to top spot in the Race to Dubai thanks to a cheque for €49,996.
The Ulsterman grabbed a share of 23rd with Tiger Woods to head the money list by €151,443 from Open runner up Lee Westwood with €1,974,181
Rory McIlroy pocketed €305,536 for his share third place to leap from 36th to 18th in the race to become European No 1 and from ninth to seventh in the world rankings.
Shane Lowry and Colm Moriarty earned €26,188 each for their share of 37th place.
Lowry is up to 45th in the Race to Dubai with earnings this season of €367,590 while Moriarty is now 184th.
Open champion Louis Oosthuizen earned €1,011,840 to move from 32nd to fifth in the Race to Dubai standings.
The South African jumped from 54th to 15th in the world, replacing Padraig Harrington who falls two spots to 17th after missing the cut.
Darren Clarke earned €20,385 for his tie for 44th but fell three places to 20th in the European money list.