The clock is ticking after Adam Scott and Jason Day ended a decade of excellence as frustrated one-major winners after their bitterly disappointing British Open flops.
The dejected pair could only watch on at Royal Portrush as Ireland’s Shane Lowry broke the course record with an eight-under 63, to go four shots clear of Tommy Fleetwood.
Revealing statistics show Australia’s pair of former world No.1s trail only Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson for most top-10 showings at the past 40 major championships.
All four stars boast an incredible strike rate at finishing on the leaderboard since 2010 at golf’s four biggest events with McIlroy (18) narrowly edging Johnson (16), Scott (15) and Day (15).
The quartet’s numbers of top-five and top-three results are also strikingly similar – and equally impressive – but it’s McIlroy’s conversion rate that sets him apart.
Despite also missing the cut at Royal Portrush, as Scott and Day did, the Ulsterman has four majors on his CV.
Scott, Day and Johnson each only have one to show for 10 years of consistently challenging for the sport’s major spoils.
And above all, majors are the measure of golfing greatness and only two for Greg Norman despite 331 weeks as world No.1 are ultimately what prevented the Shark from climbing the ranks to legend status.
It would be an equally cruel legacy for both Scott and Day to be defined as one-major wonders after being perennial contenders for a decade or more.
Scott knows it and remains driven to add at least one more to his hoodoo-busting Masters triumph in 2013.
That’s why he departed The Open dejected at not having contended for the Claret Jug he so craves after working his schedule meticulously in a bid to peak for the big ones.
“Look, I actually feel like my game is alright. I just misplayed the golf course a little bit, which is surprising because I did my homework,” Scott told AAP before leaving Portrush.
“I kind of just took a leave-it-all-out-there attitude this week and unfortunately I hit it in too many bunkers.
That’s a combination of a few poor swings and a couple of holes of mismanagement bringing them into play.”
Turning 40 next year, history says time may be running out but Scott remains upbeat.
He knows Tiger Woods secured his 15th major at the Masters this year aged 43 while Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson have all won The Open in their forties, since 2011
“There was lots of good stuff in the majors this year,” Scott said of his 18th at the Masters, eighth at the US Open, seventh at the PGA and his first missed cut at The Open since 2009.
“Five straight majors (including last year’s Open at Carnoustie) I teed up with a chance to win on Sunday.
“And I didn’t. That was the disappointing thing but I was putting myself in position.
“My first round here (78) kind of put an end to that, put me on the back foot pretty bad.
“But, overall, there’s been a lot of good play in the majors this year.”
At 31, Day should be peaking but a fifth at Augusta this year and ninth at last year’s US PGA have been his only top-10s at the majors since 2016.
He hired Steve Williams last month in the hope of rediscovering his major mojo but golf’s most accomplished caddie couldn’t save the 2015 US PGA champion from a stunning second-round collapse at Portrush that raised more questions than answers.