DUBAI // Lee Westwood threw away the chance to retain his Dubai World Championship trophy by going for glory at the treacherous last hole.
The World No 1 put himself back in contention with a run of three birdies from the 14th that took him level with, Robert Karlsson, his playing partner and to within one shot of Ian Poulter.
But the Englishman was unable to maintain the sequence and an error at the 18th cost him badly.
Believing an eagle would sweep him to victory and a birdie would set up a play-off with Poulter, Westwood decided he had to take on the hole.
"I tried to hold it against a left to right wind and just turned it over too much, Westwood said, explaining his expensive misjudgment of length which resulted in his ball overshooting the green and slipping into the stream.
"It's one of those things," he said, after his 68 left him one shot shy of the leaders at 13 under.
"I didn't really deserve to have a chance, considering the amount of shots I've squandered. But I had a chance coming down the home stretch. I've been very sloppy out there, especially on the greens."
Westwood preferred to look on the positive side after another rewarding visit to Dubai which brought him combined earnings of US$1.2 million (Dh4.4m) from his joint-third-place finish in the tournament and his third place in the Race to Dubai.
"This is my first week back after two weeks off, so I can't be too disappointed. I am under cooked compared to the other guys."
That has been a recurring diagnosis for Westwood as he has completed a disjointed end to a year which reached a low point with the occurrence of a troublesome calf injury and peaked when he replaced Tiger Woods at the top of the world rankings.
"I was on a real roll in June, and I had played great from the start of the season. But then I got injured and it set me back. Fortunately, whenever I've come back, I've been competitive again."
Westwood was able to save his par at the last hole to secure a share of third place with Spain's Alvaro Quiros, who posted a 67.
Quiros was a whisker away from taking part in the play-off as he reached the 18th green in two but missed an eagle putt to tie the lead. Quiros said: "I was conscious that I needed to hole the putt for eagle and try to force the leaders to make birdies. But, it didn't break."