From the three-footer Doug Sanders missed at the 1970 British Open to Kim In-kyung's horseshoe out of the cup from a foot at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco, golf's elite events are littered with squandered putts from short distances on the final hole.

The pressure cooker situation of a major championship coming down to the wire is certainly not for the faint of heart and nerves of steel are required to make the right shot at the right time, especially when facing a putt with the title on the line.

Johnson's moment of personal agony on Sunday came on a challenging Chambers Bay layout where short putts had been missed by the game's greatest players all week on fast, heavily contoured greens made bumpy by uneven grass cover.

The big-hitting American had just struck a brilliant second shot into the par-five last, needing an eagle three to win in regulation his first major victory or a birdie to force a playoff on Monday with his compatriot Spieth.

With the packed grandstand hushed, Johnson's 12-footer for eagle slid past the cup and he then missed the short putt coming back, his ball rolling by the left edge of the hole, to hand the title to Masters champion Spieth.

"I had it just inside right," said a dumbfounded Johnson, a nine-times PGA Tour winner. "I hit it, thought I hit it pretty decent, just missed left.

"They do bounce and when they are fast and bumpy, it's tough to get it in the hole. I might have pulled it a little bit, but still to me it looked like it bounced left. It's tough."

While Spieth was euphoric as he savoured his second consecutive major victory, he could feel Johnson's pain.

"I don't really know what to say," said the 21-year-old Spieth. "He very well could have hit a good putt and it could have bounced or it just took a break ... I very much feel for him.

"He's a great champion. He's certainly proven that he closes tournaments out. This was just an odd deal, very odd. He deserves to be holding the trophy just as much as I do this week."

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