St. Louis - Adam Scott was stung by a major loss when he led with four holes remaining, but the pain was eased by the confidence boost of contending at the PGA Championship.
The 38-year-old Australian opened and closed with bogeys but enjoyed a run of five birdies in seven holes in a third-place showing on Sunday at Bellerive, trailing only winner Brooks Koepka and runner-up Tiger Woods.
"If you told me I would have shot these scores at the start of the week, I would have been very pleased. This was some really good golf," Scott said.
"It's hard to rationalise everything after leading with four holes to play. You want to win from that position and I feel like I've led a lot of majors with four holes to play and not won them. But I will be taking confidence out of that for sure."
The most bitter major memory for the 2013 Masters champion remains the 2012 British Open, which he led by four strokes with four to play only to make four straight bogeys to lose by a stroke to Ernie Els.
But Scott, ranked 76th, had not been in the title hunt so deeply in years, the result this week his best PGA Tour finish in two years.
And he needed a special invitation from the PGA of America just to take part in his 70th consecutive major.
"Definitely moving in the right direction," Scott said.
"I don't think it will be rocket science for us to figure out, you know, the small little bits that may be missing.
"If anything, this is motivation to kick on a little bit, make the most of the rest of this year, continue playing at this level, and go into next year's season full of confidence."
Scott was deadlocked with Koepka and one stroke ahead of Woods after his birdie binge ended at the 13th hole. But Koepka birdied the par-4 15 and par-3 16 to edge clear, while Scott missed a short birdie putt on 17. The Aussie then bogeyed the last as his challenge fizzled.
"I'm pretty disappointed with myself that I couldn't play the last three holes better than I did," Scott said.
"I had a putt to be one back on 17 and I think that really hurt that I missed that, just not to make it interesting up the last.
"The putt there was my last hoorah really and just didn't hit it hard enough. And that's a shame."
Scott enjoyed his best finish since winning the 2016 WGC event at Doral. He had not been better than ninth in 17 prior US tour starts.
"I performed well in that situation and it's not like I'd forgotten what to do, playing in a final group of a major," Scott said.
"But there are always things to work on when you're not the winner. I certainly want to keep improving. I can't stop here."