Rory McIlroy overcame Xander Schauffele in a play-off to win his third World Golf Championships title at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The Northern Irishman entered the final day at Sheshan International with a one-shot lead and he still held that as he stood on the 18th tee, with playing partner and defending champion Schauffele his nearest challenger. A closing birdie from Schauffele saw him join McIlroy at 19 under and take it to extra holes but the American could not repeat last season’s play-off triumph over Tony Finau.
McIlroy hit a wonderful drive and found the green in two to set up a birdie which Schauffele could not match after finding a nasty lie off the tee and being forced to lay up on the first trip back up the 18th.
The win for McIlroy is his fourth worldwide this season and sees him join only Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods as players to have won three of the four World Golf Championships events, following his victories at the Invitational in 2014 and the Match Play the following season.
A 14th European Tour victory – and first since the 2016 Irish Open – also sees him equal Darren Clarke’s record for wins on the tour by a player from Northern Ireland.
McIlroy said: “Xander pushed me the whole way, or all 73 holes we played together this week. He was battling the flu all week, and wasn’t feeling his best, so the calibre of golf he played takes some doing. He birdied the last to get into the play-off, and then I produced two of the best shots of the day when I needed it, which was really cool.
“I have one more event left in Dubai. I want to finish the season off as well as I can. I really wanted to get another win before the end of the year and now that I’ve done that, it would be nice to get two wins. I’m excited for the future. I feel like this year compares to 2014, 2015, but I don’t see any reason why I can’t go ahead and have an even better year next year.”
Rory McIlroy’s winning gear
TaylorMade M5 9.0° driver
TaylorMade M6 15.0° fairway wood
TaylorMade M5 19.0° fairway wood
TaylorMade P750 4-iron
TaylorMade P730 5-PW irons
TaylorMade Milled Grind wedges (52°, 56° and 60°)
TaylorMade Spider X Copper putter
TaylorMade TP5 ball