Colin Montgomerie says missing out on the chance to become the world's top player - rather than failing to win a major - is his biggest regret in golf.
The Scot is considered by many to be one of the finest players never to have won one of golf's four majors, having been runner-up on five occasions.
Montgomerie says, though, that missing out on the coveted number one spot in the world rankings hurt him more.
"The leading player in the world - that would have been a big deal," he said.
Montgomerie went into the 1997 US Open at Congressional Country Club - where this year's US Open starts on Thursday - as number three in the world, knowing a victory would not only bring his first major title, but also put him top of the world rankings.
"I should have won it, to be honest. I threw in a 76 in one of the rounds which is too high. The other three rounds were good," Montgomerie said.
"Ernie Els beat me by one shot and all credit to him for doing that.
"I was one short."
The eight-time European Order of Merit winner says letting the world number one ranking slip away was harder to take than losing out on a major.
"What disappointed me that week more than anything was that I was third in the world, and if I had won that event then I was first in the world," Montgomerie continued.
"The leading player in the world - that would have been a big deal, almost a bigger deal than winning a major to me at the time.
"I got to number two, and then Tiger Woods was born, unfortunately. I was number two to Greg Norman for about a year and I didn't make it to number one.
"That was the thing that really hurt me rather than the actual tournament itself. I would have known I was number one in the world, and it's a big deal, that.
"If you are number one at anything in the world, if you are the best in the world at anything, that is a big statement."
Montgomerie also came second in the US Opens of 1994 and 2006, as well as the USPGA Championship of 1995 and the Open Championship of 2005.
Despite never breaking his major duck, Montgomerie feels that, even at the age of 47, he could still spring a shock and win one of golf's greatest prizes.
"Time is against me, but if you think of Tom Watson, who had a ten-foot putt to win [the Open of 2009] at 59, I'm still quite young," he commented.
"It's given us all a little bit of hope."
Listen to the full interview with Colin Montgomerie on The Golf Show on Radio Scotland on Saturday, 1600-1700 BST