REUTERS - Ernie Els is disappointed and angry after wasting a glorious chance to end his victory drought in golf's Transitions Championship at the weekend but feels he can still earn a last-gasp place at next month's U.S. Masters.
The former world number one from South Africa bogeyed the last two holes in Florida on Sunday to finish one stroke off a four-way playoff that was eventually won by Britain's Luke Donald.
"I've said throughout my career that whenever I tee it up I always play to win so any time I get the opportunity to do that and don't get the job done obviously I'm disappointed and angry with myself," he said on his website (www.ernieels.com).
"That pretty much summed up my emotions on Sunday evening. It still hurts the way I finished the tournament but I know in my heart how well I played all week."
Els, without a win since the four-man PGA Grand Slam of Golf in 2010, has dropped to 62nd in the world and needs to get back in the top 50 the week before the April 5-8 Masters to qualify for the tournament.
The 42-year-old has not missed the opening major of the season since 1993. He has yet to pick up the coveted Green Jacket but finished second in 2000 and 2004.
"If at the start of last week you would have offered me rounds of 70, 67, 68 and 67 for a 12-under-par total I'd have liked the sound of that," said Els.
"But my (missed) putt on 18...kind of leaves a nasty taste. It's a tough deal but I have to take stock and try to see the positives.
"This was one of my best performances on the PGA Tour since 2010. I drove the ball well, topped the greens in regulation for the week and I was right up there in the number of birdies made."
Els knows he needs good performances at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida and the Houston Open immediately afterwards to book his Masters spot.
"If I'm going to secure my place I may have to win, or at least come very close, in one of my next two tournaments," he said.
"The nice thing is I'll go into both of them knowing my game is pretty much right where I need it to be in order to compete and get in the mix again and next time I like to think I can finish the job off."
Writing by Tony Jimenez in London, Editing by Clare Fallon