Rory McIlroy's failure to hole putts and make his presence felt in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic was not the only painful reality facing the young Ulsterman as he headed home.
As Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez beat Lee Westwood with a par four at the third extra hole to claim his 16th European Tour title, it emerged that McIlroy will have a scan on his back on his return to Belfast.
The 20 year old Ulsterman suffered a back injury just days before the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down and while he has undertaken a strict fitness regime to strengthen his core and reduce the amount of stress he places on his back, he has not managed to eliminate the problem completely.
Quite apart from his physical problems, it was another Sunday to forget for one of European golf's brightest hopes as he failed to take advantage of his birdie chances and took 33 putts in a two over par 73 to finish three strokes outside the play-off in a share of sixth place on eight under par.
"I am obviously very disappointed at the minute," said a crestfallen McIlroy, who admits that he is becoming frustrated by his failure to record a second professional victory following his breakthrough win in Dubai 12 months ago. "I didn't play very well today and didn't take my chances. I want to win and I want to challenge to win and I didn't even put myself into position today to do that."
It was a sixth top 10 finish from his last seven starts for McIlroy, who appears likely to move up to world No 7 when the world rankings are updated on Monday.
He was third behind Robert Karlsson in the Abu Dhabi Championship on his 2010 debut two weeks ago and will be one of the favourites to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship when he returns to action in Tucson in a fortnight's time.
McIlroy added: "I suppose it was very difficult out there today with the wind. I played okay the first few holes but I just didn't take my chances - 20 foot putts, you need to hole two or three out of ten and I just didn't hole any.
"I just wasn't able to get birdies early and that's what you needed to do."