MIKKO Korhonen claimed the second European Tour title of his career at the 25th anniversary edition of the Volvo China Open.
The Finn overcame Frenchman Benjamin Hebert on the first play-off hole after a thrilling finale at Genzon Golf Club.
In an intriguing final day tussle, last week’s Trophée Hassan II champion Jorge Campillo, overnight leader Benjamin Hebert and Korhonen – all playing together – shared a three-way lead stepping onto the 17th tee.
But the 38-year-old from Helsinki nosed ahead with a crucial birdie four on the penultimate hole.
Hebert, one shot back with one to play, decided to pull out the big gun and drove the green on the par four closing hole, two-putting for a birdie, a closing 69 and a 20-under total to take it down the 18th once again.
But Korhonen, who had signed for a 66, never flinched in the face of intense pressure and a chip and a putt were enough for a winning birdie three on the extra hole.
A delighted Korhonen said: “It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know how I did it. But it’s probably the putter that was my winning formula this week.
“I made lots of putts from outside 15-20 feet this week. I made a birdie on 17 and gave myself a chance to win it on 18 but I didn’t manage to do that.
“But I was happy to get into the play-off. It was my first time in a play-off and I had nothing to lose. I just had to make birdie. Winning a golf tournament is never easy.
“It was a battle all day as everyone was making putts and I had to stay patient and do the same. It’s great to have this second win in the bag and I’m delighted.”
The victory moved Korhonen to 17th – from 98th – in the Race to Dubai Rankings and earned him a place in the second Major Championship of the season – next week’s US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York.
For Hebert, it was a second runner-up finish on the European Tour, while Campillo has now finished in the top three in five of his last six appearances. Haotong Li was the leading Chinese player after carding a six under final round 66 to seal fourth place outright.
Herbert said: “It has been a good week. It was a long journey from Morocco to China and now next to England. I’m happy though, finishing second. I missed the wedding of one of my cousins this week so it was very important for me to have a good week here.
“Looking at the way I played, I’m happy. Mikko played great today and he didn’t make any mistakes and putted well. I knew I had to make four-under to take the lead and win the tournament but I couldn’t and only managed a three-under.
“Mikko and Jorge had a great start and it was an interesting battle with them. I couldn’t really find my rhythm as compared to yesterday. I’m tired but happy. I’m still chasing my first win. I got close this week and I have to be more consistent and see what happens.”
Campilllo having waited so long for his first victory was disappointed not to become the first player to win back-to-back on the European Tour since Hampshire’s Justin Rose in 2017.
Campillo said: “It was disappointing. I finished as a champion last week, but I didn’t this week. I had the tournament in my hands, but missed a few shots in the middle of my round which cost me the tournament.
“Mikko played unbelievable golf and it was just a shame I couldn’t join the play-off. Hopefully, I can hit it better with my driver the next time.”