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Rory McIlroy pips Xander Schauffele to WGC-HSBC Champions title

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The best shots and key moments from the final round in Shanghai, where Rory McIlroy birdied the first play-off hole to pip defending champion Xander Schauffele to the title.

Rory McIlroy birdied the first play-off hole to dethrone Xander Schauffele after a thrilling finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

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WGC-HSBC Champions

Schauffele made a good four at the long 18th to tie McIlroy on 19 under par after 72 holes, but the young American was unable to go for the green in two on the first extra hole after tugging his drive into the left rough.

Rory McIlroy
Image: Schauffele narrowly failed to defend his WGC title in China

McIlroy had also erred with his final drive of regulation play and flirted with the water down the right, but he atoned with a perfect blow a few minutes later and knocked a towering 230-yard four-iron pin high to leave himself 25 feet for eagle, while Schauffele gouged his ball back into play and clipped a wedge to eight feet.

But he read too much break into his birdie putt and tapped in for a disappointing par, leaving the stage clear for McIlroy to wrap up his fourth victory of the year with a composed two-putt birdie, and the 30-year-old will now set his sights on returning to world No 1 with another big week in Dubai later this month.

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McIlroy slept on a one-shot lead overnight, but he soon found himself trailing as he could not match another flying start from Louis Oosthuizen, who birdied the first two holes before McIlroy responded at the fifth.

Schauffele made a good four at the second, and he would make it a three-way tie at the top with a birdie at the fifth, and the defending champion hit back from a bogey at six with three consecutive birdies, although McIlroy birdied eight and nine to regain his lead at the turn with Oosthuizen dropping his first shot of the day at the ninth.

Rory McIlroy
Image: McIlroy did not drop a shot over the weekend

McIlroy was then content to grind out the pars down the stretch, and he doubled his lead with a birdie at the long 14th before Schauffele again reduced the deficit to one when he got his sixth birdie putt of the round to drop at the next.

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Oosthuizen clawed his way back into contention with birdies at 14 and 16, but he could not better par over the last two holes and settled for a 69 and outright third place on 17 under, his best result since finishing runner-up to Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship in March.

Rory McIlroy
Image: McIlroy now has three different WGC titles in his collection

Schauffele needed to birdie the last to have any chance of forcing a play-off, and McIlroy opened the door when he came dangerously close to finding water off the tee and did well to get his second far enough down the fairway to wedge range, with Schauffele barely staying dry with his bold second that clung to the front edge of the green.

McIlroy knocked his third to 15 feet but the birdie putt never looked like getting to the hole, and Schauffele lagged to six feet and rattled in a confident putt to cap a 66 - two strokes better than McIlroy's 68 in which he went bogey-free for the second time over the weekend.

WGC Highlights

But Schauffele could not emulate last year's play-off win over Tony Finau following his mistake off the tee back at the 18th, and McIlroy took full advantage to become only the third player after Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson to collect three different World Golf Championship titles.

Alfred Dunhill Links champion Victor Perez and Austrian Matthias Schwab both fired 66s to climb into a tie for fourth with Abraham Ancer on 15 under, while halfway leader Matt Fitzpatrick (71) and WGC debutant Paul Waring (72) both enjoyed top-10 finishes but were not able to mount a significant challenge on the final day.

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