The record book will show only that Nick Price has twice been a runner-up in the British Open.

But there is a vast difference between the entries for 1980 and 1988."They say I lost the first one. This time, he just played better than I did," Price said after being overwhelmed by Seve Ballesteros' career-best round, a 6-under-par 65 on Monday.

Price responded with a 69, including a meaningless three-putt bogey on the final hole when he tried to make the long putt needed to force a playoff.

When it missed, it didn't matter that the comeback attempt also failed. It just changed Ballesteros' winning margin from one stroke to two.

The performance was a far cry from Price's effort at Troon, Scotland, in 1980, when he blew a three-shot lead with six holes to play.

This time he simply ran into a career-best effort by one of the game's great players. "This was one of those rounds that happens every 25 or 30 years," Ballesteros said.

He was pushed to that performance by Price's stubborn refusal to fold.

"If Nick Price keeps playing like that, he will be a champion. Someday he will win this championship," Ballesteros said. "He made it very difficult."

He did, indeed.

Ballesteros played the sixth and seventh holes birdie-eagle, yet he picked up no ground.

Price, playing in the same threesome, also went birdie-eagle.

Ballesteros dropped a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th. Price put a 10-footer in on top of it. Both birdied the 13th, Price with an approach that almost went in for eagle.

Only Ballesteros' wedge shot to the 16th, which stopped two inches away, separated them. Price couldn't answer that one and Ballesteros went on to a victory.

"There is nothing better than to able to play the kind of golf we played in the last round of a major championship," Price said.