Johannesburg - South African golfer Charl Schwartzel squandered his best chance so far to win the US Open in the final round after leading with 17 holes left, on Sunday.
He had to settle for 14th position, seven shots behind the leader, with an eight-over par score at the Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania.
England's Justin Rose, born in Johannesburg, went on to win the testing championship, with a one-over par 281 on the par-70 course.
Schwartzel birdied his first hole to share the lead with American Phil Mickelson but eight bogeys and a double bogey saw the 2011 Masters champion fall 13 places and drop out of contention.
Ernie Els, meanwhile, starting the final round way back in 16th position -- on six over -- made a strong challenge with a closing one under par 69, to finish five over and share fourth position.
Els birdied the 17th, with a four-iron which took the slope and nestled close to the hole for a tap-in to give him the momentum heading to the final hole.
But a bogey on his final hole proved costly for The Big Easy.
“I hit a very nice shot,” said Els about his tee shot on 17 after his round.
“I was just trying to get as much out of my round as I could.”
Els, however, came up short of the 18th green with his approach and was unable to get up and down for par.
“Unfortunately I bogeyed 18.
“But [I hit] some really nice shots and started playing the course the way it should be played.”
The only other South African to make the cut was George Coetzee who struggled on the weekend with rounds of 77 and 77 after earlier posting 71 and 73 on the first two days.
Coetzee finished 18 over in a tie for 56th.
“Time to go home - picked up a lot of good experience and looking forward to a good rest! I'll be back #britishopen,” Coetzee tweeted after his final round.