(Reuters) - Big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat eagled the penultimate hole to force a playoff and then prevailed over Chinese teen Li Hao-tong at the Shenzhen International to claim his second European Tour title on Sunday.
The 19-year-old Chinese golfer signed off with a five-under-par 67 in his regular round to aggregate 12-under, hoping to be the first from his country to win an European Tour event on home soil.
Overnight leader Kiradech, however, had other ideas as the Thai, having dropped four bogeys by then, eagled the 17th to draw level before squandering a putt to win the tournament on the final hole.
Li failed to sink a much longer putt in the playoff on the same 18th hole while Kiradech birdied it before pumping his fist and roaring in celebration.
“Special thanks to my caddie, he was always pushing me,” the 25-year-old Kiradech, whose only other European Tour victory came at the 2013 Malaysian Open, said.
”When we were two behind on the last two holes he said you have not lost, we have not signed the scorecard yet and he was completely right and I just got the job done.
“I had a chance to win in 72 holes but the putt in the play-off is the best putt I have ever made in my life.”
Li sank six birdies in his strong round but it was not enough in the end.
“I made a lot of birdies again. But the Thai guy played so well. Congratulations for him,” said the teenager.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood threw himself in the title hunt but his third straight round of 69 left him on 11-under overall.
Spaniard Alvaro Quiros fired a nine-under-par 63 to reach eight-under overall while two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson finished tied 29th at five-under after signing off with a final round 65, his best round of the week.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly