By Simon Evans
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Lee Westwood once again flirted with the Masters title on Sunday but his final round 68 proved not quite enough and he was left ruing his putting over the four days of the tournament.
Westwood shot the same fourth round tally as winner Bubba Watson and went one better than play-off runner-up Louis Oosthuizen but, despite going four-under on the back nine, had to settle for tied for third, two strokes adrift.
And the Englishman had no doubt what had cost him the chance of a first major.
"The story of the week is you have got to putt well to win the Masters and I haven't putted well," he said.
"I came out and missed a two footer on the third inexplicably and that is not the kind of thing that will give you confidence for the rest of the round," said Westwood, referring to an early bogey.
"So I didn't really make that many putts. The longest I made was ten foot on 18. I made a good one at the right time, but that's not really good enough," he said.
Westwood has now had seven top three finishes in major championships since 2008, including his runners-up spot at the 2010 Masters behind Phil Mickelson.
"I've been in there a couple times nearly the last four years and it's a great experience. It's a nice place to be. As a professional golfer, it's the arena you want to play in. When the weather is like this, there is nowhere quite like it, I don't think," he said.
The 38-year-old from Worksop began this year's tournament by taking the first round lead with a fine 67 but his one-over round of 73 on Friday set him back.
Nonetheless, he had a chance to make a late push on Sunday with an eagle putt on the 15th which circled half the hole and a birdie opportunity, albeit a tough one, on the 16th.
"If I made that eagle at 15, I'm looking at a couple of birdies probably on the few holes and might get in a playoff. That was a good putt that didn't go in," said Westwood.
The Englishman's form this week though, indicates he should be a contender in the year's remaining three majors.
"I have to keep plugging and working out. Don't give up. I don't feel like giving up just yet," he said.
(Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)