Hindsight being 20/20, Sean O'Hair has had 48 clearheaded hours to rethink every decision and replay every shot of Sunday's final round of The Players Championship.
"I'd still go for the pin at 17," O'Hair said yesterday. "I rolled the dice. The dice just came up snake eyes."
Don't talk to O'Hair about the $747,000 it cost him when the quadruple-bogey at the infamous island green at TPC Sawgrass dropped him from second to 11th place.
"I know it's a lot of money," O'Hair said defensively. "But if I'm standing on that tee thinking about money, I shouldn't be on the PGA Tour. If you're a true player, you play to win."
In golf, some days you've got it, some days you don't. O'Hair knew early on Sunday that he wasn't stone-cold flat, but the magic touch he enjoyed in the first three rounds wasn't there.
So he did the best he could to hang on and grind it out against a red-hot and revived Phil Mickelson, who also happened to be the crowd favorite. When O'Hair birdied the ninth hole to regain a share of the lead with Mickelson at 11 under par, he figured he had new life.
"It was a great feeling going into that back nine," he said.
Unfortunately for him, his troubles were only beginning. He got a bad break at the 10th hole when his approach shot out of the fairway bunker hopped off the back of the green.
"It's six inches off the green in the rough, and I've got a horrific lie," he said. He made bogey.
Where O'Hair believed he truly lost momentum, however, was at the par-5 11th hole, where he hit a great tee shot and a good approach shot that caught the top of the front bunker and rolled in. Then he misjudged his lie in the sand, resulting in a heavy shot that came up 15 feet short.
"If that ball carries another six inches, it rolls down by the hole," he said. He still couldn't believe a birdie putt didn't drop.
Next came a couple of missed opportunities. At the 12th hole, O'Hair missed a birdie putt from nine feet after going to school on Mickelson's slightly longer putt. And at the 16th, he missed another birdie putt, from just inside six feet, that would have changed everything.
"I hit a great putt," O'Hair said. "Outside left edge. It just never moved. That was hard to swallow. It would have turned the momentum around."
If he had made birdie at the 16th hole, O'Hair said, it would have changed how he played the 17th. He would have been only 1 shot behind Mickelson, with honors on the 17th tee.
"If I'm 1 shot better, I don't go for the pin," he said. "I play to the middle of the green and put pressure on Phil."
Instead, when Mickelson, with his 2-shot lead, played to the middle of the green, the pressure was on O'Hair.
"There comes a time when you have to either make something happen or not, and that was one of those times," O'Hair said. "Unfortunately, it's not a good hole for that."
It never occurred to him not to attack the pin for birdie. And while Johnny Miller on NBC was questioning whether the 9-iron he pulled was too much club, O'Hair never considered a wedge.
"I've got 128 yards to clear that bunker, and the max I can get out of my wedge is 125," he said. "I've got 136 to the pin, 148 over the green. My full 9-iron goes 145."
By that point, Steve Lucas, his caddie and father-in-law, was silent. Lucas had initially asked O'Hair if he had considered his wedge, but when O'Hair said no, Lucas let it drop, not wanting to put a shred of doubt in his mind.
The resulting shot, O'Hair said, was the best swing he made all day - sweet, smooth, slightly abbreviated, not a full 9. He thought it was perfect.
"I'm posing over it," O'Hair said, laughing at himself. "The thought of it hitting water never entered my mind. Whether it was adrenaline or the wind, I don't know."
"No, because I took a chance and hit a good shot," he said. "If you're afraid of success, you will never amount to anything. If you're afraid of failure, you'll really never amount to anything."
So, how will he enjoy becoming part of the annual highlight reel of disasters at Sawgrass' 17th hole?
"Thanks for reminding me," O'Hair said.