Paul McGinley failed to end his three-year victory drought in the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco.
The Dubliner, 41, was bidding to follow in the footsteps of Padraig Harrington, who lifted the jewel encrusted dagger awarded to the winner last year.
But he had to settle for a share of fourth place with Michael Hoey as world No 10 Ernie Els picked up his first win since he lifted the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour in March.
Without a win since the 2005 Volvo Masters, McGinley went into the final round three shots adrift of England’s Simon Dyson.
But a closing one-over par 74 relegated him to joint fourth with Ulsterman Michael Hoey, who scorched up the leaderboard thanks to a sizzling final round 66.
McGinley and Hoey banked $33,500 (€23,000) as they finished on four strokes adrift of Els on 13-under.
The South African was four shots behind Dyson with a round to pay but pocketed the $150,000 (€118,000) top prize thanks to a brilliant closing 68 as he finished two shots clear of the Englishman and Sweden’s Johan Edfors on 17-under.
Els said: “I’m surprised to win but at the same time, I’m delighted. After making a double bogey on the 13th things weren’t looking to good but I managed to make seven birdies after that.
“The Red Course at Dar es Salam is a great course and I hope to come back to Morocco to defend my title next year.”
Dyson and Edfors were tied for the lead with Els on 16-under par with three holes to play.
But it was the three-time Major winner who took the title when he birdied the par-three 17th and Dyson bogeyed the 16th and Edfors the 18th.
Hoey’s share of fourth place should boost his confidence ahead of this week’s European Tour Qualifying School Finals near Barcelona while McGinley will return to action in Hong Kong next week before partnering Graeme McDowell in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China at the end of the month.