Why Darren Clarke couldn't be blamed for swift exit after agonising missed cut at The Open
He didn't hang around, and nobody was blaming him.
Handshakes all round, a quick wave to the crowd and he was gone. Out the back exit of the grandstand at the 18th green.
There's a mixed zone set up for the media where players give their thoughts after their rounds and it was packed on Thursday - he couldn't bear to go through that again knowing what questions would be coming.
A bogey down the last would have done it for him. Instead, he drove it into one of the fairway bunkers, took two to get out of it and then proceeded to three-putt from 30-feet for a triple-bogey seven to finish three-over par for the tournament.
He didn't wait around for his status for the weekend to be confirmed - he didn't need it to be, nor did he want it to be. Missing the cut at an Open, the first Open to be held at your home course in 68 years, in that manner is gut-wrenching.
This will be a week that Darren Clarke will never forget, but it will be a week that he will also so desperately wish he could.
This was meant to be his week, the week that he got to play in an Open in front of his home fans that he never ever thought he would get the chance to. The week that he would see all that hard work in the background pay off as he endeavoured to bring The Open back to Portrush.
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Were he to compete, it would have been a bonus, with the expectation being that he would walk triumphantly down the 18th fairway on the Friday and doff his cap having enjoyed two rounds at Portrush.
But then the entire narrative changed when he birdied three of his opening five holes on Thursday.
Excitement overtook reality - thoughts of Clarke, at 50 years of age, potentially winning his home Open ran rampant. Was this the start of a man possessed by the thrill of playing on home links defying all logic to recreate the kind of play he had during the 2011 Open?
Understandably, his level wouldn't stay at a high enough standard to maintain that three-under start, but even so, to card a level par 71 in his opening round was beyond anybody's wildest expectations.
And perhaps that's why, sitting here now, it stings all the more.
The key lay in Friday's round. Anybody can play one good round, now it was about being able to play two in as many days.
For a long time, it looked like the answer was he could, and only when he needed his game to stand up to the tests of time the most was the real answer 'no'.
He'd had chances to kill off any lingering fears of missing the cut too. At the second hole he missed from four feet for birdie, while at the seventh he also saw a birdie putt slide wide from five feet. When he compounded the latter with bogeys at the ninth and 10th, the fears grew.
But then as soon as they had arisen, they disappated. He birdied the 12th, and then the 15th for the second day in a row.
At this stage the bogey he'd thrown in in the middle at the 14th was nothing more than a footnote in a great story - one of the sons of Ulster golf, the most unfancied of the three, was strolling into the final round of The Open at Royal Portrush.
The stage was set. Pars came at 16 and 17, two holes that seemingly plagued the rest of the field but never scared Clarke. All he had to do was play the last in five strokes or less and he would be preparing for Saturday and two more walks down 18.
But then sport's never that easy, is it?
Perhaps he should have taken iron off the tee and ensured he found the fairway, but would that have then made the approach to the green all the trickier? Should he have aimed further down the left and avoided the bunkers altogether, but risk bringing out of bounds into play?
Either way, it doesn't change what happened. The scorecard for the two days reads three-over, and that's not good enough to make the weekend.
It seemed like, for four days, he was going to roll back the clock and prove he was still the same player who put Northern Irish golf on the map before McIlroy and McDowell emerged.
And now, at this stage, all the hurt of his career comes flooding back in a tsunami of emotion - the likes of losing the '95 Portuguese Open play-off, the '97 Open and the '04 WGC-Match Play.
This one might just hurt more than all of them combined.