Less than three months after seeming to lose his exempt status on the European Tour, Englishman Graeme Storm withstood a final round pairing with Rory McIlroy at the BMW South African Open, winning with a par on the third extra hole at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg.

Last October, Storm, 38, fell 100 Euros short of automatically retaining his playing card, but subsequently moved up one crucial spot on the moneylist when Patrick Reed failed to play the minimum number of events.

Storm, the 1999 British Amateur champion, led McIlroy by three through 54 holes (69-63-67) but lost the lead to the World No.2 with a three-putt on the 14th hole – his first bogey since the opening round. But when McIlroy bogeyed the 17th, the pair finished tied.

“I just stuck to my game plan and tried not to be intimidated by Rory’s extreme length,” said Storm, who closed with a 71 (18-under, 270).

Finally, with the pair playing the 412-metre, par-4 18th for the fourth time of the day, McIlroy pushed his drive, missed the green left, chipped 10 feet past and lipped out the par putt to give Storm his second career European Tour victory and first since 2007.

“I told myself to try and grasp the opportunity of getting my livelihood back with both hands, and I have done that this week,” said Storm.

McIlroy graciously said he was “delighted” for Storm, and added, “I wish I could have done a little more but it’s not a bad way to start the season and gives me something to build on in the weeks ahead.”