That, of course, and a conspiracy of tired nerves, bad luck and the brilliance of a 42-year-old golfer somewhere in the distance, far from The Man Who Lost The Open.
At 5.30pm, Steve Williams punched the air and Adam Scott grinned to reveal a set of teeth, pearly white. The caddie had just watched the player drain a putt of 15ft to go four shots ahead in the 141st Open with four holes to play. The pedants will state he was not yet The Man Who Won the Open and they will be right. But bookmakers were informing punters if one wanted to make £1 on the Australian's name being inscribed on the Claret Jug one had to bet £50.
Scott, too, had been playing steadily. Three bogeys on the front nine had been made almost innocuous by a birdie at the second hole. From the seventh to the 13th, the 32-year-old played in par as Graeme McDowell, surely his only rival, was dropping shots with abandon. Up ahead, there were the roars of acclaim as Ernie Els drifted, surely inconsequentially, up the leaderboard. Scott, looking as languid as the teenager who has slept late on a Sunday and is about to raid the fridge for some sustenance, was in control.
The 14th was played beautifully. Straight down the middle, safely on to the green. A putt of 12ft disappeared. It was then that Williams, who has carried the bag for Tiger Woods in 13 major victories, exploded in acclaim, relief or maybe even expectation. Scott grinned as if he had found something appetising in the fridge.
He then bogeyed each of the last four holes. He found different ways to lose the Open. He was versatile in his failure.
At the 15th, he played conservatively but chipped close enough to hope to save par. He missed a short putt.
On 16, Williams told him: "Six good swings to win the tournament." Scott obliged with two excellent ones but took three putts, missing a tiddler, to complete the hole. On 17, it was his second shot that drew blood. "At this point I am still well in control of the tournament," Scott said later of the moment he stood 178 yards from the pin with a 6-iron in hand. "I just turned it over. It just wasn't a good shot. That's the one I look at and I am most disappointed about." He chipped on and, inevitably, missed the putt.
One ahead with one to go? No. Els, a 42-year-old who knows how to win a major and how to survive losing them had birdied the last to match Scott on seven under. The Australian had not yet become The Man Who Lost the Open but he was standing on the 18th tee knowing he had to birdie to win it without recourse to a play-off.
He was aware of the situation that had moved from stable to highly critical. "I started paying attention to the leaderboard about the seventh or the eighth hole," said Scott. "And I knew I was obviously in a pretty good position."
But there was a roar as Scott walked down the 17th that signalled Els had drilled his putt in on the last. "Yeah, I heard it. I didn't even have to look at the leaderboard to realise the situation." But the Australian had driven well and a par on the 17th would have given him leeway on the last. Then came that six-iron.
And then there was that stare down the last. Did he know what he had done? Did he fear what was about to happen?
Scott, gracious and open in a press conference that must have been an ordeal, was keen to emphasise that nerves had not played a part in a disintegration that was sudden, dramatic and inexorable. "I was surprisingly calm the whole round," he said. "A little nervous on the first tee, but less so that yesterday. Even on the last few holes I didn't really feel it was a case of nerves or anything like that."
So what had led him from leading the Open by four shots at start of play and then with four holes to go to standing at the centre of the sporting world with glory or failure just 413 yards away?
Scott called it "sloppy" play and it was all of that and more. There seemed a nervous exhaustion to his approach. "I probably spent all my nerves working up to playing today. It's funny, I definitely worked myself up a little bit at times," he said.
The missed putts were hardly a surprise. There is a reason that a man goes to work with a putter so long one could attach a sail and use it for windsurfing in the Lancashire breeze. Scott was never confident on the greens. He was comfortable when making lag putts to protect a generous lead but when that was evaporating he knew both himself and the belly putter couldn't be relied upon.
He was betrayed, though, by his good friends the iron and the wood. Scott has a wonderful swing and had been happy with his shot-making all week. The six-iron at the 17th was surely an aberration.
He stood on the 18th tee and pondered. "I thought about going with less club," he confided to the world's media. He felt a 3-wood was the proper club, seeking to make the ball drift from trouble. "But I just hit a real bullet and it held its line."
It shot into the bunker as if there was a target painted on the sand. "That wasn't the shot I needed right there," he said with a smile that was the physical definition of rueful.
He played out and on to the green. The ball lay no more than six feet from the hole. It could have been six inches and not many would have backed him to hole it. "That putt really didn't do. It was never really on the line. It just never really looked like it was going in."
It slid past and Scott buckled, sliding on to his haunches. "That's why they call it golf," he said. He was alluding to the demands this sport can make on individuals and how the best will buckle as a combination of factors conspire to rob a player of his strength, his conviction and, ultimately, his dream.
Scott was The Man Who Lost The Open. It was 6.20pm. The bright shining expectation of the 14th had been consumed in a gathering dusk. It took 50 minutes in time. One can only guess as what it has taken, perhaps irrevocably, from a young man.
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