Rory McIlroy can see the progress but could not help showing his disappointment after letting his lead slip at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy finished the tournament a shot behind Haotong Li – the same place where he started the day – despite holding a two shot advantage with eight holes to play.
The Northern Irishman, who was in contention the week before in Abu Dhabi before finishing third, made a number of mistakes on the way in to let Li back into the contest.
‘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.’
McIlroy’s fine start to 2018 now has two sides: two near misses but two solid weeks after three months out of the game following a torrid 2017 filled with injury niggles.
‘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.’