David Howell finished his up-and-down adventure at The Open Championship in style with a superb round of 67 at Royal Birkdale.
The score, comprised of four birdies, one eagle and three bogeys, maintained the Englishman’s habit at this year’s event of following a bad round with a good score.
On Thursday he opened with seven bogeys in the front nine holes en route to a score of 76, before making the cut with a second round 71. That was followed with seven bogeys and a double bogey in a 78 on Saturday, but Sunday’s fine finale ensured he finished a creditable 12 over par.
Early on, though, it did not seem to be going well. He took a bogey at the third to slip to 16 over, but birdies at the fifth, seventh and 11th set him in the right direction.
A bogey at the 12th dented his momentum, but he recovered with a birdie on the 15th before a superb eagle three at the 17th. He dropped a shot at the last to dampen the mood, but he remained upbeat.
He said: “That was probably my best Open.
“The wind has switched across the course which makes it a bit easier to score, but the conditions are still quite tough.
“It was a bitter-sweet end to the round, but probably my best Open.”
Elsewhere, Jean Van de Velde carded a level par 70 to finish 14 over par, the same as South Africa’s Thomas Aiken, who shot a final round 68.
David Duval was two shots further back after a 71, while Justin Rose closed with a 71, leaving the Englishman 21 over.
Rose, who famously finished fourth here as an amateur, said: “I had a magical week last time, but it's not a magical place for me and it's been disappointing.
"I didn't feel a sense of burden and I felt in good shape mentally, but with the conditions it was easy for the week to get away from you and yesterday that's what happened."
The day's play began with showers and winds still gusting up to 33mph, persuading the officials to reduce the tenth hole by 27 yards to 381 yards on the back of Saturday’s decision to shorten the sixth, 11th and 16th.
The final pair are due out at 2:20pm, with Greg Norman - at 53 trying to pull off one of the most remarkable-ever victories in sport - two over par and two ahead of defending champion Padraig Harrington and South Korean KJ Choi.
England's Simon Wakefield, without a European Tour victory in 210 starts, was just a shot further back on five over with former champion Ben Curtis among a group of players five off the lead.