Rory McIlroy struggled to claim golf’s biggest first prize of £1.25million after losing a three-shot lead for the second event in a row and being forced into a play-off.
The 22-year-old, playing his first event since changing management stables, beat American Anthony Kim at the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters after a final-round shoot-out between the pair. McIlroy resumed three clear, but had a bogey to Kim’s birdie on the first and when he dropped another shot at the 11th trailed by one.
Northern Ireland’s US Open champion drew level with a birdie at the long 15th, however, and with pars at the final three holes they tied on the 18-under-par mark of 270, McIlroy going round in a level-par 72 to Kim’s 69. At the first extra hole Kim missed a three-foot putt and McIlroy’s two-footer for par gave him the title.
South Korean Noh Seung-yul and American Hunter Mahan were five strokes back in joint third, England’s world number two Lee Westwood missing the chance to join them by bogeying the last two holes after he had holed-in-one at the 12th.
McIlroy’s win does not improve his world ranking position or boost his Ryder Cup points because the tournament did not have official tour status.
He was able to breathe a sigh of relief, though, after going in the water on the ninth, three-putting the 11th and missing an eight-foot chance to win on the final green, then finding a bunker like Kim when they went into sudden death.
It was his fourth victory as a professional and his second of the year following his eight-shot triumph at the US Open in June.