Alexander Levy became the first golfer to win the China Open twice after he defeated overnight leader Dylan Frittelli in a playoff at the Topwin Golf and Country Club on Sunday.
The 2014 winner, who was seven shots behind Frittelli at the start of the final day, birdied the 18th hole to card a 67 and force a playoff with the South African at 17-under-par for the tournament.
Earlier, Frittelli was in the driving seat after taking a four-shot lead to the back nine, but a double bogey on the 12th hole saw him lose momentum.
Following his fourth European Tour title and his first of the season, Levy said he is aiming for a home Ryder Cup appearance at Le Golf National in 2018.
“That’s an amazing feeling, to be back in the winner’s circle,” Levy said.
“It’s a goal and a dream for me to play the Ryder Cup in
Frittelli, a teammate of Jordan Spieth when they were both at the University of Texas, looked to be cruising towards his first European Tour title after opening up a four-shot lead with nine holes to play.
The 26-year-old from Johannesburg, who lost a playoff at the 2016 Australian PGA Championship, did not drop a single shot in his previous two rounds.
But he saw his lead suddenly slashed in half when he double-bogeyed the par-five 12th after his errant drive ended up resting against a tree, and he had to take a drop.
He made amends when he drove the green on the 299-yard par-four 15th and made birdie.
But he dropped another shot at the par-three 16th and was unable to pick up another birdie, which would have won him the title, at either of the last two holes.
At least it was the biggest payday of his professional career as Frittelli bagged €298 788 (about R4.35 million) for his second-place finish.
Thanks for the support today guys and girls! Had an amazing time in China and have a plane load of fuel now, to keep getting better!
“It stings a little bit,” said Frittelli. “I let it go there in the end, but I’m still proud of the way I played this week. It’s a great result – 17-under-par on this golf course is nothing to scoff at.
“I’m sure I’m going to win, hopefully this season – that would be a great goal to achieve. I am hoping to have a very long career, so I’m not going to let this get me down or be upset with anything.”
Pablo Larrazabal, who started the day in second, endured a terrible start with back-to-back bogeys and signed off with a 72 to finish third.