Lee Westwood today admitted that it was probably a mistake to play last week's Hong Kong Open.
The event saw Rory McIlroy finish as runner-up for the second year running and take over the European Tour Order of Merit lead with only this week's Dubai World Championship remaining.
Westwood was down in joint 54th spot and so fell nearly almost €130,000 behind the 20-year-old Irishman.
Victory on Sunday would still make him Europe's number one for the second time, but the Worksop golfer cannot now afford to finish outside the top seven to have a chance.
"In hindsight I think it probably was a mistake," said Westwood before playing his first practice round at the Greg Norman-designed Earth course.
"I obviously didn't know the course because I had never been there, but looking back it definitely didn't suit me.
"It was predominantly a hooker's course, with a lot of shots off the tee where it suited somebody that drew it and hit a hard draw, which is not my shot.
"I've worked a lot this year on 60-100 yards out, but it's still not as sharp as everybody else and there were a lot of those shots last week.
"There were only two par fives and no rough, which generally doesn't suit my game. I like harder course where there's a bigger premium on tee-to-green stuff.
"You occasionally get weeks where things are not in your favour and I had a busy week off the course too. I was a bit lethargic really throughout."
Experience has taught the 36-year-old, however, that what happens one week has no relevance on what happens the next week - and he hopes that is the case again.
"After 16 years out here and a few up and downs I've sort of managed to be able to block average weeks out and move on on a Monday morning."
A look into the past also helps him believe he can regain the money list crown he last held in 2000.
He overhauled Darren Clarke in the final week then by finishing second to Canadian Mike Weir in the American Express world championship at Valderrama.
"I think I was more than £128,000 (actually it was only £62,000) behind going into the last event. So I've done it before and I can do it again."
German Martin Kaymer and Westwood's fellow Englishman Ross Fisher could also top the "Race to Dubai" standings because of the first prize of £744,180 (€839,460) this week.
Kaymer, unlucky to be put out of action for two months by a go-kart crash in which he broke toes, has to finish in the top four, while World Match Play champion Fisher has to first or second.