The margins at the upper echelons of sport are always unfailingly fine, but no one encapsulated that more than a crestfallen Jim Furyk late on Sunday night at Medinah.
"Losing the US Open, losing Bridgestone, I'll be honest, it's been a very difficult year," said the American, struggling to find words following his side's final-day collapse in the Ryder Cup.
Of the 13 members of the vanquished United States team at the post-tournament news conference - the players sat either side of Davis Love III, the captain - Furyk seemed to be wearing worst the disconsolation of defeat.
The typically placid Pennsylvanian, when quizzed about a crushing climax to a tortuous 2012, issued an uncharacteristically fiery response.
"Well, first of all, I would gather you probably haven't been on a team to ask that question," he snapped. "We came here as a team, we wanted to win the Ryder Cup as a team. We didn't do it, but we are going to leave here in the same fashion.
"I've got 11 guys here, I've a captain, and I've four assistants that have my back."
Furyk will need to rely on that support following his capitulation in Chicago. Knowing he needed a point, or even a half, from his singles match against Sergio Garcia simply to halt the encroaching Europeans, the 42 year old bogeyed the final two holes to hand Jose Maria Olazabal's men a precious lifeline.
Furyk, when it mattered most, had come up short. Just like at Olympic Club in June, when while leading the final round of the US Open he hooked his drive horribly on 16 and eventually lost. Just like at Firestone six weeks later when his double-bogey on the 72nd hole gifted Keegan Bradley the WGC title.
The world No23, excellent enough to triumph at the 2003 US Open, is no longer the US PGA Tour's 'Mr Steady'.
Defeat on Sunday will gnaw for some time, exacerbated by his inclusion as one of Captain Love's wild cards - a 'go-to guy' - and it will be interesting to see how he recovers.
By a cruel twist of fate, it was Garcia that Furyk thumped at Brookline in 1999 as the United States stormed the singles to provide a comeback of similarly epic proportions.
"That was fun," Furyk said. "This was pretty miserable."
A miserable end to a miserable year. But for three agonising moments, Furyk would have been celebrating a career-defining season. No doubt, someone of his standing should be allowed to revisit the upper echelons of the game. His Medinah malaise, however, may prove one blow too many.
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