Dustin Johnson's bid for a second US Open title in three years faded on the greens at Shinnecock Hills, where the world Number One had a ringside seat to good friend Brooks Koepka's victory.
Johnson arrived at Shinnecock fresh from a US PGA Tour victory in Memphis that propelled him back to the top of the world rankings.
He looked every inch the top golfer in the world as he established a four-shot lead through 36 holes, his four-under total making him the only player under par at the halfway stage.
That lead had evaporated by the end of a chaotic third round, but as part of a four-way tie for the lead going into Sunday, Johnson still looked like the man to beat.
But the putting problems that emerged on Saturday dogged Johnson again in the final round.
He three-putted three times on the back nine and failed to mount a challenge. He finished third, two strokes behind Koepka after an even par 70.
Johnson declined to discuss the round, but Koepka was full of praise for his friend.
"He's going to win another (major), we all know that," Koepka said. "The attitude, the work ethic, everything that he brings to it, in my book he will, when he's done, probably go down as one of the best of all time."
Koepka and Johnson worked out together before each of the last two rounds, but Koepka said they spoke little during competition for the title.
"We talked a lot more when we worked out than when we were on the golf course," Koepka said. "We're both competitive. We both know we're trying to beat each other and trying to win a golf tournament, trying to win a major.
"He was busy grinding his tail off and I was busy grinding mine. But I'm sure there's nobody happier for me than Dustin."
© 2018 AFP