Jordan Spieth headed to Augusta with mixed emotions after missing out on a second victory of the year ahead of his Masters title defence this week.
Spieth began the final round of the Shell Houston Open five shots off the pace, but birdied five of his first seven holes to reduce his deficit to a single shot before fading badly on the back nine.
The world number two played his last 10 holes in three over par, including a double bogey on the 18th, to card a closing 70 and finish in a tie for 13th, seven shots behind winner Jim Herman.
Herman's maiden PGA Tour title also secured him a Masters debut.
"It's tough," Spieth told reporters. "I mean, I had it going there. With the conditions, two under was a very average score. So a very disappointing finish.
"I need to put it together and not hit every ball in the water. I had eight water balls this week. Give me eight more shots and we win the golf tournament. Don't hit it in the water, we win. It's unfortunate.
"Good news is I got myself in contention, I felt the nerves. I know what I need to work on under pressure now for next week, and everything is there. I just need to put it all together and limit the mistakes. Five over-par holes, that needs to be limited going into a major."
Herman chipped in for a vital birdie on the 16th as he carded a closing 68 to finish a shot ahead of Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who also shot 68 and missed from 15 feet for birdie on the last to force a play-off.
American Dustin Johnson was third after a closing 69, with Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello continuing his superb recent form with a flawless 65 to finish fourth.
Cabrera-Bello, who finished third in the WGC-Dell Match Play last week, has earned enough money to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, but is not certain that his future lies in the United States.
"I'm really happy playing in Europe. Europe has gotten my golf to what it is nowadays," he said.
"I'd be happy also playing a little bit more here, or complementing both schedules like other players do. But it's something I need to give some thought. I really feel I need to grow a little more as a player to play both tours comfortably."