Shane Lowry said he can take little consolation from his excellent third-place finish at the Masters.
The Offaly native closed with a round of 69 on Sunday to finish in joint-third along with Cameron Smith and five shots behind eventual winner Scottie Scheffler.
It was Lowry's third highest finish in a Major, having previously won the Open in 2019 and finishing second at the US Open three years earlier, but disappointment rather than satisfaction was his overriding emotion afterwards.
"I will wake up tomorrow thinking what could have been, there's no doubt about that. The best player in the world came here this week, what a run of form he is on and he put on a show. To shoot 12 under here is very very good," he said.
"Obviously I did very well to come back from what happened on the fourth hole today [triple bogey] but I do feel quite disappointed standing here right now," said Lowry.
"Genuinely i don't think I've built myself up for a week like this so much," he told RTE Sport. "It is the first time I felt like I was gearing myself up for this week and to come in and perform as I did is nice, it's good, it's quite rewarding, but I'm disappointed that someone else is putting on the greeen jacket this afternoon and it's not me."
He added: "It's hard because I want this so much and I worked so hard for it and I hope I get the chance again. I know what it would have meant for me, for my family and the people of Ireland to bring the green jacket home. I didn't do it today but hopefully I can do it again."
Having started well in his hope of hunting down Scheffler and Cameron Smith, Lowry had to hit a provisional at the par-three fourth after an errant tee shot and he ended up taking a six.
From there he got his head down and came home with six birdies and just a single bogey, at 12, another par three.
"I told myself it was one bad shot and a lot of the pins were in bowls so I knew I'd get a lot of chances and I was putting well.
"So I had to knuckle down and get on with it. I'm never going to give up out there, so whether I'm ten over or ten under I'll be trying over every shot."
"I haven't won for a few years and I don't like not winning. I don't know, I just love competing, I love playing big tournaments and it gets me going so much.
"Another few weeks to the next big, big one and hopefully I can keep my form going and give it a go up there in Oklahoma."
Lowry has the consolation of walking away with a cheque for $870,000 (€799,500), with McIlroy pocketing $1.62million (€1.49m) and Seamus Power taking home $111,000 (€102,000).