John Daly missed a three-foot putt on the second playoff hole to gift Tiger Woods his fourth WGC-American Express Championship crown on Sunday.
Daly's howler on the par-four 16th provided an anti-climactic finish to a gripping afternoon of cut-and-thrust golf as two of the biggest draws on the PGA Tour duelled for supremacy at a sun-drenched Harding Park golf course.
The American duo had completed the 72 holes of regulation play on 10-under-par 270, Woods firing a three-under 67 and Daly closing with a 69.
"The last thing you want to see is that happen," world number one Woods said after securing his 10th WGC individual title.
"We should be going on to 17, it would have been fun for both of us.
"I feel so bad for JD. You never want to win a golf tournament that way, you want to go out and earn it. He was the man to catch and I was just fortunate to get into a playoff.
"It shouldn't end like that. I just felt so bad because he played so well all week."
With his sixth victory of 2005, Woods secured a winner's cheque of $1.3 million and moved closer to Vijay Singh's single season-record of $10.9 million set last year.
Woods has won $9.9 million from 19 events.
Daly began the final day with a one-shot cushion over Britain's Colin Montgomerie but the battle for the title came down to a two-way fight with Woods.
After scrapping his way to an outward nine of even par, U.S. Masters and British Open champion Woods roared into a share of the lead with three consecutive birdies from the par-five 10th.
Daly, however, responded by chipping in from 55 feet on 13 to regain control.
The twice major winner, bidding for his sixth PGA Tour title, forged two strokes clear when Woods bogeyed 14 but Daly faltered with a bogey at the par-three 17th
"I know Tiger didn't want to win that way, and I certainly didn't want to lose that way," Daly said.
"He probably would have rather won with a chip-in or birdie.
"He's a champion and he's won so many golf tournaments. I was probably feeling a bit more heat than he was.
"Like I said, you just hate to lose that way. It's very disappointing."
Seven-times European number one Montgomerie, chasing his first PGA Tour title, bogeyed the last for a 70 to slip back into a share of third place at eight under with Spaniard Sergio Garcia (69) and Swede Henrik Stenson (68).
While the breakthrough win eluded Montgomerie, the 42-year-old Scot returns to the European Tour with his confidence on a high by following up his first victory in 19 months at the Dunhill Links championships with a gritty four days at the WGC.
Severely jetlagged, Montgomerie was lodged top the leaderboard through the opening two rounds and remained in contention almost until the end.
"I'm tired, very tired," said Montgomerie, who moved back to the top of the European Order of Merit ahead of New Zealand's Michael Campbell with three tournaments to play.
"I came here to try and do a few things and I achieved them.
"I'm coming away very positive and can take that onto next week in Madrid."
World number two Vijay Singh, American David Toms and Britons David Howell and Graeme McDowell all finished five shots back at five-under 275.
McDowell closed with a final round two-under 68 but was left wondering what might have been had he not signed for a quadruple bogey on 18th during third round play on Saturday.
"Eighteen kind of kicked me in the butt a little bit," said McDowell said."Golf is a cruel game."