Beijing – South Africa's Charl Schwartzel shot a four-under-par 68 Sunday to take the Nanshan China Masters by a single shot.
The two overnight leaders, 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke and China's number one Liang Wenchong, the defending title-holder, could only manage level par and tied for second place.
Schwartzel, who won the Masters in 2011, started the day in sixth place, three behind the leaders, and did not make much of an impression on the front nine, only clawing back one shot on Clarke.
But three birdies on the back nine, including two consecutively on the 15th and 16th, saw him squeak home after the Northern Irishman bogeyed the par-3 17th when a loose tee shot left him on the fringe of a bunker.
Schwartzel finished nine under for the OneAsia tournament, played on the Montgomerie course of the Nanshan International Golf Club in the eastern province of Shandong, and said: “It's always very satisfying to win.
“I've played a lot of golf tournaments and done a lot of travelling in the past few months and it felt like I've been playing really good golf with no results, so it's nice to have something finally go your way,” he added, according to a report released by the organisers.
Clarke, who has struggled since his Open victory at Royal St George's two years ago, seemed to be on form until he missed a three-footer on the 13th, and said his lie at the 17th was “horrible”.
“It couldn't have got any worse,” he added. “I'm obviously disappointed with the day Ä it was another one of those days on the greens again where I couldn't buy a putt from anywhere.”
“Still, that's golf and they've got a very good winner here, a fantastic winner, and that's the way it is. It's like that sometimes, unfortunately.”
Liang won last year's tournament in gripping style, playing the 18th with South Korea's Y.E. Yang five times before coming out on top, and had a chance to force another playoff on the final hole, but his birdie attempt came up short.
“It was a delicate putt,” he said.
Final round (par 72)
279 Charl Schwartzel (RSA)
280 Liang Wenchong (CHN), Darren Clarke (NIR)
282 Rhein Gibson (AUS), Rory Hie (INA), Mark Brown (NZL), Scott Strange (AUS), Kwon Sung-Yeol (KOR) – Sapa-AFP