The 111th Open ultimately came down to a battle between Nick Price and Tom Watson, with the latter triumphing after his inexperienced rival faltered over the closing holes.
Yet Watson and Price had each found themselves overshadowed earlier in the week as Bobby Clampett, a 22-year-old Open debutant from Monterey, California, stormed clear of the field in astonishing style.
A rising star in his home country, Clampett had tied for third behind Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach a month earlier.
And while the wider world may not have expected him to be among the frontrunners on his Open debut, Clampett was high on confidence and belief, particularly after shooting 65 in a practice round at Troon.
After beginning the Championship proper with a five-under 67 to lead Price and Watson by two, Clampett stunned spectators in Friday's second round by opening up a five-stroke lead with a course-record 66.
The youngster with a distinctive mop of curly, blond hair was not finished there. When Clampett holed a huge birdie putt from the back of the fifth green on Saturday, his advantage stood at seven strokes with 31 holes to play, with Watson - the eventual Champion - nine shots back.
This was a truly remarkable performance from a player who had never previously set foot on a British links course, but Clampett's fairy tale soon turned into a nightmare.
An eight at the par-5 sixth, where he found three bunkers, represented a significant blow for the runaway leader and triggered a painful slide.
"I certainly felt all the momentum was gone after that triple-bogey," said Clampett in an interview decades on from his remarkable week at Troon. "It did take a lot of wind out of my sails."
Clampett still held the lead at the end of round three, albeit only by one stroke from Price following a 78, to have held the lead outright after each of the first three rounds. But his hopes of victory quickly vanished on the final day as he shot 77 to finish in a tie for 10th.
Price, Clampett's playing partner in Sunday's final group, looked set to capitalise as he opened up a three-shot lead with six holes to play.
Yet he also stumbled, dropping four shots thereafter and finishing tied for second with Peter Oosterhuis as Watson lifted the Claret Jug for the fourth time in eight years.
"I didn't win this Championship," said Watson. "I had it handed to me."
For Clampett, who managed just one win on the PGA Tour for the remainder of his career, it was definitely the one that got away.