By Andrew Both
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tim Clark, Graeme McDowell and Hiroshi Iwata were all left ruing missed opportunities at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament won by American Bubba Watson on Sunday.
Watson beat South Africa's Clark in a playoff, while Northern Irishman McDowell and Japan's Iwata finished tied for third with American Rickie Fowler, one shot back, after both men failed to sink birdie putts on the final hole at Sheshan.
Clark birdied the par-five 18th to match Watson's 11-under-par total and earn a spot in the playoff but the short-hitting Canadian Open champion could not repeat the feat a few minutes later to extend the contest further.
"I'm pleased overall (but) obviously disappointed to be that close," Clark told reporters. "I tried to play this course smart and it was enough to give me a shout. I just needed to play the playoff hole better."
McDowell, meanwhile, nearly led wire-to-wire, but in the end could not limp across the finish line without his best game.
"To be brutally honest, I didn't have my 'A' game all week," he said.
"The course just got so difficult this weekend. The pins were evil at times and you really had to be on your iron play to have a chance to access them and I didn't play well enough, simple as that.
"The putter that was so hot early in the week cooled off this weekend. I'm disappointed but to finish (tied third) not playing my best, I have to count myself fairly fortunate."
Iwata was perhaps the most disappointed of all. A victory would have been life-changing for the 33-year-old, who has only one career win on the Japan Tour.
He was confident standing over his putt that would have made it a three-way playoff, but appeared to allow for too much break and his ball missed to the left.
"It's still a little hard for me to swallow this," he said. "It's a tough way for me to finish a tournament.
"I'm upset I couldn't make the playoff. I think I can learn a lot from this but it may take some time."
Despite making his WGC event debut this week, Iwata said he was not surprised by his strong showing.
"I had a good feeling that if I played my game, I might have a chance to be in contention."
(Editing by John O'Brien)