Johannesburg - George Coetzee finished in a tie for fifth with a final round two under 70 in the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.
The South African's total of 14 under par 274 was four shots off Spanish winner Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
His solitary bogey came on the par four 16th hole to effectively end his charge for a maiden European title and drop three behind the leaders with two holes left to play.
After a good drive, he overhit a wedge shot and faced a tricky chip for his third. Left with an eight footer for par, Coetzee's well-struck putt horseshoed out of the hole.
Annoyed at his mistake, Coetzee fired his tee shot just short of the front edge of the green on the 328 metre par four 17th.
With a similar length putt to the one he missed on the previous, this time he pushed the putt to end any hope he had of winning.
Knowing his chance at victory had passed, Coetzee was unable to birdie the par five 18th.
Coming into the week, Coetzee was 17th on the Race to Dubai Moneylist, and should move up for the week.
He trails fellow South African Branden Grace, who tops the moneylist after two consecutive wins in the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions event in January.
Grace did not add much to his season earnings. He tied for 51st with a three under total for the week.
The 25-year-old Coetzee, who is ranked 77th in the world, will go up the rankings and may face a tough decision in the next two weeks.
If he improves to 64, he will be eligible for the World Golf Championship event - the Accenture Match Play Championship - starting on February 22.
It will be the same week as the Telkom PGA championship at Country Club Johannesburg, where he is the defending champion.
Jbe' Kruger was the next best placed local player in Dubai in a share of 28th as he rose 17 places with a final round of 69.
Richard Sterne was two shots behind Kruger and tied for 37th, with James Kingston a further stroke behind in 42nd position.
Sterne continues his impressive return to competitive golf after a long injury layoff. He made his first start of the season at the Africa Open in East London in January.
The 30-year-old, who is ranked 747th in the world, reached a career high of 29th in the official world golf rankings after winning the 2008 Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open.
Leading final-round scores from the Dubai Desert Classic at the par-72 course on Sunday:
270 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain) 63 69 70 68 271 Stephen Gallacher (Britain) 69 65 68 69
Lee Westwood (Britain) 69 65 67 70 273 Marcel Siem (Germany) 65 69 68 71 274 Soren Kjeldsen (Denmark) 68 69 70 67
George Coetzee (South Africa) 69 66 69 70
Rory McIlroy (Britain) 66 65 72 71
Scott Jamieson (Britain) 65 68 70 71 275 Thomas Bjorn (Denmark) 66 65 73 71
Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) 66 72 67 70
Joel Sjoholm (Sweden) 71 66 66 72 276 Romain Wattel (France) 66 71 70 69 277 Estanislao Goya (Argentina) 68 68 72 69
Ben Curtis (US) 70 67 67 73
Martin Kaymer (Germany) 66 67 70 74