Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang edged a thrilling play-off against Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Italy’s Francesco Molinari to capture the UBS Hong Kong Open and secure his first victory on The European Tour.
The Asian Tour regular had failed to hole a birdie putt from six feet on the last during regulation play so entering a three way play-off with McIlroy and Molinari after the trio finished on 15 under par after 72 holes.
Molinari was eliminated at the first extra hole after making par while Lin and McIlroy both birdied, meaning the two would face off again.
Lin’s birdie was all the more remarkable as, after hooking his tee shot, he had to hit his second shot out of the trees, over the water and a bunker and get it to stop on the tight 18th green. The shot looked impossible but somehow Lin not only found the green but his ball finished six feet away.
At the second play-off hole it was McIlroy, 19, who pulled his tee shot into a crowd of spectators to the left of the fairway but he too played an incredible recovery shot, hooking a gap wedge 40 yards round the tree to find the back edge of the green.
Lin, meanwhile, hit the fairway from the tee before superbly hitting his second shot to within a foot of the pin and when McIlroy's birde putt slipped by, the 34 year old applied the easy finish to become the first Asian in a decade to win the tournament.
Lin admitted he was unable to put into words exactly how much his first victory on The European Tour meant.
“I’m still smiling,” he said. “This is my first European Tour win and my feelings cannot be described.
“With this win I can re-assure myself that what I am doing is right."
McIlroy improved his start to The Race to Dubai having been tied for fifth after the opening event, the HSBC Champions. While it was a second play-off loss of the year, MicIlroy can be proud of his perfomance.
“To hit two threes in a play-off, you can’t beat that,” said McIlroy. “It was not meant to be but it still has been a great week for me. I couldn’t have done much more.”
“I think that the pity is just the putt on the 72nd hole that went really, really close to going in,” said the Italian.
“When I was on the course in the afternoon, I thought that 16 under par was the goal to win, but I'm happy with the way I played. And next time, I'll be more lucky.”
Lin had started the final round a stroke behind overnight leader Oliver Wilson but a three under par 67 meant he finished at 15 under par 265 for the tournament.
McIlroy and Molinari both shot 65s but took second place following their defeat in the play-off.
Pablo Larrazabal, the 2008 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, shot a three under par 67 to finish in a share of fourth place alongside Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, who carded 65.
There was heartache for Wilson once again, however, as the 28 year old compounded to hit three successive bogeys from the 15th to drop to 12 under for the tournament and leave him still searching for a maiden European Tour victory.
The Englishman tied for sixth alongside Germany's Bernhard Langer, Malaysian Iain Steel, David Gleeson of Australia and South African Richard Sterne.