Colin Montgomerie says his "heart bled" for Lee Westwood after the Englishman was overhauled by Phil Mickelson on the final day of the Open.
Westwood, 40, is yet to win a major tournament but took a two-shot lead into the final round at Muirfield, only to finish four adrift of Mickelson.
Montgomerie, Westwood's Ryder Cup captain in 2010, never won a major.
"I have always wanted Lee to win a major. If anyone deserves it, he does," the 50-year-old said.
"He was two shots ahead and had a golden opportunity, we know that, but he was beaten. I was glad he was beaten and didn't beat himself."
American Mickelson called his final-day 66 "the round of my life" while Westwood closed with a 75, his worst of the championship.
He has now finished either second or third at a major eight times in his 62 attempts.
Montgomerie won the European Order of Merit eight times, but the closest he came to winning a major was five second-place finishes.
The Scot, who takes part in the Senior Open for the first time at Royal Birkdale this week, believes the fact another major - the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill - starts on 5 August is a good thing for Westwood.
He added: "It was strange because we always talk about Lee's chipping and putting letting him down in many ways and his tee to green game being so good.
"But it was the opposite that last round and he didn't play well enough and I think because of that he will not take any scars away.
"We all wish him well when the next major comes around and he is lucky that it comes around in three weeks' time. He has now become the best player in the world to never win a major and we wish him well."