Just as Martin Kaymer could blame a go-kart accident for stopping him becoming European number one last year so Lee Westwood can point to a calf injury for not being able to defend the title this season.
But he does have the world number one spot. As Kaymer and Graeme McDowell set off for their duel in the desert on Thursday - the Dubai World Championship is the final event of the European Tour season - Westwood admitted he was disappointed it was not still a three-horse race.
"I think I can sit back and have a slight grin being world number one," he added. "I'm not going to lose sleep over it, but I would have liked to have had a chance to defend the European crown this week. It would have made more exciting for everybody I guess."
He currently lies third in the race, but the best he can do is overtake McDowell and finish runner-up.
The Ulsterman, meanwhile, needs a top-three finish on Sunday just to have a chance of pipping Kaymer to the post.
It is almost a month now since Westwood succeeded Tiger Woods as world number one, but Kaymer could take it away from him with a top-two finish at the Jumeirah Estates course.
There has been much discussion since Woods dropped to number two over whether it is right the sport's top-ranked player is somebody who does not have a major to his name.
"I don't give a monkeys," said Westwood. "I've become number one (the fourth to do so without lifting a major first) and I guess it's for everybody else to debate.
"I'm not one of those people that confuses being world number one and winning major championships. People come out of nowhere and win major championships. Well, that's not what being number one in this sport is about.
"It's about consistency and performing well all the time at the highest level. The system is based over a two-year rolling period."