Graeme McDowell on Saturday conceded defeat to Martin Kaymer in their battle to become Europe's number one.
But the Ulsterman also said after a third round 69 at the Dubai World Championship that a season of incredible highs has left him convinced he can go on to become world number one.
His three under par score lifted him into 29th spot, but with Kaymer in contention at the tournament McDowell commented: "Barring the impossible Europe's number one is not a reality for me any more."
He added: "Martin is definitely going to do it unless I shoot 55, which unless one of you boys (a handful of reporters) putts for me isn't going to happen.
"But what I've learnt this season is that I'm good enough. I know what room I have for improvement, but it was great to see that my best is good enough to compete. Two or three years ago the number one seemed untouchable, but I believe if I work hard enough I can become the best player in the world."
McDowell was on two under par with 18 holes to play and the lead was held at 10-under by cup team-mate Ian Poulter after he birdied the long second.
With joint overnight leader Ross Fisher running up a bogey six on the same hole current world number one Lee Westwood - also this week's defending champion - took over in second place. He was only one behind, while Fisher and Thai Thongchai Jaidee were two back.
Kaymer was another to birdie the second, but he had started with a bogey and when another came at the short fourth he slipped into a tie for ninth. Those dropped shots were not damaging his Order of Merit hopes too much, but they were blows to his hopes of dethroning Westwood at the head of the world rankings.
He needed a top two finish to have a chance - and even if he wins tomorrow Westwood will stay top if he is runner-up to him.
The big move of the round was coming from McDowell's compatriot Rory McIlroy, who turned in 33 and started for home with a hat-trick of birdies to climb from 25th to joint fifth.