Rory McIlroy was angry with himself after he surrendered a two-shot lead on the back nine to finish second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Northern Irishman entered day four a shot behind Li Haotong but had caught the Chinese by the turn and a two-shot swing on the tenth put him in pole position for a third title at Emirates Golf Club.
A bogey on the 11th, par on the par five 13th after a three-putt and a bogey on the 16th then meant a birdie-birdie finish was not enough as Li birdied four of his last six holes to win by one shot.
And while McIlroy was full of praise for Li's tenacious finish, he could not help but reflect on his own missed opportunity.
"From being two ahead standing on the 11th tee to being level going into 16, I just don't know," he said.
"It was a couple of bad shots, a couple of poor decisions, a couple of mental errors, a few tentative putts out there as well.
"I kept leaving myself in places where I couldn't really give it a run at the hole because they were downhill, downgrain, downwind. So I didn't really leave it in the best spots to be aggressive with my putts.
"But I tried until the very end, made two good birdies. Made him win it in the end which was all I could do and he played very well on the way in, birdieing three of the last four.
"I just wish I could get a couple of those holes back."
The competitor in me is very disappointed right now. I wanted to win. I always want to win - Rory McIlroy
McIlroy's tie for third at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA was his first European Tour appearance since October's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as he took an elongated winter break to get over the rib injury that plagued his 2017 campaign.
The four-time Major winner was disappointed to miss out on the win at both events but admits his return to action could not have gone a great deal better.
"If someone had told me at the start of the year, 'you'd finish third and second your first two events', I'd say, 'yeah, I'd take that'.
"But being in the positions I've been in and having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it's a little difficult.
"The competitor in me is very disappointed right now. I wanted to win. I always want to win and I just didn't do enough when I needed to."