The par putt never had a chance.
A little more than an hour later, neither did Watson.
Stewart Cink, who made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, took advantage of Watson's missed opportunity and won a four-hole playoff by six shots.
Watson stood on the 18th tee one last time, blinking away tears. He wasn't alone in his sadness. Thousands of fans who filled the grandstands for the first time all week sat in stunned silence.
The loudest cheer was for the player who won the silver medal.
Cink, who was never atop the leaderboard all week until Watson missed his putt, was flawless in the playoff and finished off with two birdies. As he gazed at the fabled claret jug, he paid his due to Watson, the modern day King of the Links.
"I don't even know what to say," Cink said. "My hat's off to him. He turned back the clock. Just did a great job. I speak for all the rest of the people here, too."
At the first extra hole, No. 5, both players put their approach shots in greenside bunkers, but only Cink could get up-and-down for par. Watson hit an ugly sand shot that just cleared the lip of the pot bunker, and needed two more putts for a bogey that gave Cink the early edge.
Both parred the par-3 sixth, but Watson's tee shot on the par-5 17th found trouble and he made double bogey. Cink birdied to take a four-stroke lead into the final hole.
A victory would have made Watson the oldest golfer to win a major and would have given him a record-tying six claret jugs.