Justin Thomas admitted thinking about the prospect of becoming world number one played a key role in his defeat to Bubba Watson at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Thomas was unbeaten going into his last-four clash with eventual champion Watson and would have supplanted Dustin Johnson at the rankings summit had he progressed to the final.
But the US PGA champion suffered a 3 and 2 loss to Watson before succumbing 5 and 3 to Alex Noren in the third-place matchup.
Explaining the downturn in his fortunes, Thomas said: "I had a really hard time getting focused and being worried about my match as opposed to things that can happen and thinking about potentially this afternoon [Sunday].
"But I just didn't play well and Bubba played really well.
"I haven't had such a hard time not thinking about something so much. And that really sucked. I couldn't stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.
"And I think you're constantly getting questions about it with the media. But I need to be mentally stronger than that, and understand that it's just a match.
"But at the end of the day, obviously I didn't play very well, but I definitely didn't give him the match. He made a lot of birdies out there and played well enough to be deserving to be in the final match."
Thomas will tee off at the Masters on April 5 as one of the favourites, but suggested missing out on the top ranking may be a blessing in disguise.
"In the end it might be a good thing going to Augusta without that," Thomas added. "I get to go do what I was going to do and let DJ have all that pressure."