SHANGHAI: Rory McIlroy defeated defending champion Xander Schauffele on Sunday to win his first WGC-HSBC Champions tournament and continue his quest to retake the world’s top golf ranking.
McIlroy had a one-stroke lead coming to the 18th tee of regulation play in Shanghai but nearly put his drive into the lake, and ended with a par.
That left him tied with Schauffele after the American carded a birdie.
But the 30-year-old Northern Irishman erased any doubt in the play-off replay of the par-5 18th, booming a drive to the middle of the fairway while Schauffele’s tee shot missed left.
McIlroy went on to win the hole and the $1.745 million winner’s purse at the par-72 Sheshan International Golf Club.
McIlroy is coming off a strong 2018-19 season that saw him climb the world golf rankings, and he said this week in Shanghai that his sights were set on retaking the top slot from its current holder, American Brooks Koepka.
As the sport buzzes with the return of Tiger Woods — who achieved a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour win this past week in Japan — McIlroy left little doubt that he also remains a potent force in world golf.
He did not drop a shot over his final 38 regulation holes and went 67-67-67-68 to finish at 19 under for the event.
Schauffele, gunning to become the first back-to-back winner of east Asia’s premiere tournament, shot a six-under 66 on Sunday. AFP