x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

McIlroy edges Kim in play-off to take home Shanghai Masters riches

North Irishman gave up a three-shot lead in regulation, but made no mistake in the play-off by taking the US$2m first prize.

Rory McIlroy won a play-off against Anthony Kim of the US to win the US$2M prize at the Shanghai Masters.
Rory McIlroy won a play-off against Anthony Kim of the US to win the US$2M prize at the Shanghai Masters.

SHANGHAI // Rory McIlroy, the US Open champion, defeated Anthony Kim of the United States in a sudden-death play-off to win the Shanghai Masters.

McIlroy gave up an early three-shot lead before rallying from a stroke down on the back nine to finish regulation level with Kim at 18-under 270 and force the play-off.

The Northern Irishman, 22, had a chance to win the championship with an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th, but missed by inches.

Both players drove into the bunker on the first play-off hole, then both made equally well-placed shots out of the sand close to the pin. The American then missed his putt from about three feet, while McIlroy sank his two-foot putt for the victory.

McIlroy takes home the US$2 million (Dh7.35m) first-place prize money, the richest in golf, while Kim took home US$750,000. Thirty players took part in the invitational, first-year tournament, which is not sanctioned by a major tour.

American Hunter Mahan (70) and South Korea's Noh Seung-yul (73) finished equal third at 13-under.

Lee Westwood hit a hole in one on the 12th hole and seven birdies for a 67, finishing in fifth place at 12-under. It was the best round of the week for the Englishman, ranked No 2 in the world, despite the fact he ended with two bogeys.

The final round turned into an unexpected duel between the world No 3 McIlroy and the 82nd-ranked Kim, who has just three PGA tour victories to his credit.

There were echoes of McIlroy's stunning collapse at the US Masters earlier this year when he sprayed shots all over the course and surrendered a four-shot lead in the final round at Augusta on his way to an 80.

After three rounds of relatively error-free golf in Shanghai, McIlroy hit into the water and bunkers, and missed several close putts. But this time, he was able to turn it around.

His troubles started on the first hole when he hit the pin with his approach shot, causing the ball to ricochet into the fringe and a bogey. Kim was able to quickly make up the difference, sinking three birdies to pull into a share of the lead at 18-under on the sixth hole.

After McIlroy answered with a birdie to retake the lead on the 7th, he hit his second shot into the water on the difficult par-4 9th, settling for a bogey and giving Kim another opening.

The American missed an easy putt from five feet to take bogey himself and remain one shot back at the turn.

McIlroy's struggles continued on the back nine. He hit into the bunker on the 11th and then three-putted for another bogey — his third of the day — to give Kim the lead.

After hitting into the bunker again and barely salvaging par on the 14th, McIlroy finally got a break on the 15th hole when he made a five-foot birdie and Kim missed from the same distance to even the score again.

McIlroy had a chance to take the lead on the 17th, but missed his birdie putt. Then, on the final hole, he missed another putt by inches that would have given him the victory.

Ian Poulter (72) finished in sixth place at 11-under, while Retief Goosen (68) and KJ Choi (67) were in equal seventh at eight-under.

All the top players received appearance money and last place earned $25,000. Because the event is not sanctioned by a major tour, there were no ranking points at stake.

The World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is next week at nearby Sheshan International.