With a closing four-under 68 at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China – including birdies on the last two holes – Xander Schauffele chased down third-round leader Tony Finau to get into a playoff at the WGC–HSBC Champions. The Californian, who turned 25 during Thursday’s first round, then made another birdie on the first sudden-death playoff hole to claim victory, his third career title but first since the 2017 Tour Championship.

“It’s a lot to take in, honestly,” Schauffele said. “I didn’t have an incredible Asian Swing up until this point [25th place finish at the CIMB Classic and T-48 at the CJ Cup], so I think that flight home will be a little bit more special.”

Schauffele began the final round in a tie for second, three strokes behind Finau, and got off to a solid start, making the turn in two-under par to stay within striking distance. A birdie on the par-4 13th hole, along with a pair of bogeys by Finau on the 11th and 12th holes, briefly gave Schauffele the outright lead. But then things flipped back when Finau birdied the 14th hole and Schauffele bogeyed the 15th.

Yet despite all the movement on the board, Schauffele kept his cool, catching Finau again with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole and making another birdie on the 18th to close with a four-under 68. When Finau birdied the 18th as well, giving him a one-under 71 on the day, the two returned to the 18th tee for a playoff, each posting 14-under 274 aggregates.

Schauffele split the fairway off the tee and reached the green in two on the par 5, while Finau’s drive found a bunker. Forced to lay-up, Finau hit his third shot to 20 feet and nearly rolled in the birdie effort. But when he missed, Schauffele’s two-putt birdie was enough for the victory and the $US1.7 million first prize.

Schauffele’s 68 was the day’s low score – just three players broke 70 on Sunday – and he was the only player in the 77-man field to shoot in the 60s on Saturday and Sunday at Sheshan International. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, while needing just 29 putts.

For Finau, making his first start of the 2018-’19 US PGA Tour season, it was another close call as he tries to add a second win to his résumé, the first coming in 2016 in Puerto Rico. In his past 10 tour starts, Finau has posted six top-10 finishes.

“It definitely feels like I let one get away, but Xander played incredible golf today,” Finau said. “He posted a number out there and made birdie on a playoff hole when it counted. Hats off to him. He played nicely today and deserved to win.”

The leading Australian in China was Jason Day, who closed with a two-over 74 to finish four-under in a tie for 11th.