Darren Clarke’s victory drought goes on after stablemate Charl Schwartzel shot a four under 68 to claim the Nanshan China Masters title by a stroke from the Ulsterman (72) and defending champion Liang Wenchong (72).
Two behind Clarke and Liang overnight, Schwartzel birdied the 15th and 16th to draw level with the Northern Irishman, who had missed a three footer on the 13th before failing to get up and down for par from thick fringe grass at the 17th.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the day - it was another one of those days on the greens again where I couldn’t buy a putt from anywhere,” said Clarke, who will move up approximately 60 places to 270th in the world rankings.
Clarke, who has not won since he lifted the Claret Jug more than two years ago, still had a share of the lead on the 17th until finding the thick fringe of a greenside bunker.
“It was horrible. It couldn’t have got any worse,” he said, after hacking it out and missing the par putt. “Still, that’s golf and they’ve got a very good winner here, a fantastic winner, and that’s the way it is. It’s like that sometimes, unfortunately.”
“It’s always very satisfying to win,” said 2011 U.S. Masters champion Schwartzel after finishing on nine under par.
“I’ve played a lot of golf tournaments and done a lot of traveling in the past few months and it felt like I’ve been playing really good golf with no results, so it’s nice to have something finally go your way.”
Both Liang and Clarke had the chance to force a playoff on the 18th, but the hole had yielded only one birdie all day and the pair saw their attempts come up short.
“I knew I had to a make a birdie on the last but it was a delicate putt,” said Liang, a four-time winner on OneAsia who ended a two-year title drought with victory here last year.
“Still, the Nanshan China Masters is my Major - one of the most important wins in my career - and a good platform for younger China players.”
Australian Rhein Gibson, a graduate of OneAsia’s Q-School in California earlier this year, shot an excellent 69 to share fourth place at six under with countryman Scott Strange (72), New Zealander Mark Brown (70), Indonesia’s Rory Hie (70) and Kwon Sung-yeol (72) of Korea.
Shwartzel said he drew on memories of his 2011 Major victory during the final round.
“I won the U.S. Masters from four shots behind and I won by two shots,” he said.
“I never thought I was out of it, for any second. It’s a matter of staying in there, hitting good golf shots and controlling your own destiny.”
He had some words of comfort for ISM stablemate Clarke, expaining: “Darren has been one of my idols. I’ve always looked up to him and he has been fantastic to me.
“I regard him as one of the best wind players when conditions are bad, and he has taught me so many of those shots. I hope it didn’t work against him this week.
“Darren also hasn’t played very well this year, so it’s nice to see him compete this week. It’s never nice to lose - I know the feeling - but I know he can take a lot of positives from his performance this week.”
OneAsia heads to Seoul next week for the Kolon Korea Open from October 17 -20, with world number four Rory McIlroy the star attraction.
Clarke is schedule to play two events on the PGA Tour next month having rejoined the US circuit - the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island from November 7-10 and the following week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.
Nanshan China Masters, Montgomerie Course at the Nanshan International Golf Club (Par 72)
279 - Charl SCHWARTZEL (RSA) 71-72-68-68.
280 - LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 74-64-70-72, Darren CLARKE (NIR) 72-68-68-72.
282 - Rhein GIBSON (AUS) 74-69-70-69, Rory HIE (INA) 75-65-72-70, Mark BROWN (NZL) 71-72-69-70, Scott STRANGE (AUS) 72-69-69-72, KWON Sung-yeol (KOR) 73-70-67-72.
284 - Ryan HALLER (AUS) 72-72-73-67, PARK Il-hwan (KOR) 73-70-71-70, Scott LAYCOCK (AUS) 70-73-69-72, ZHANG Xin-jun (CHN) 71-67-72-74.
285 - Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 72-70-71-72.
286 - ZHANG Lian-wei (CHN) 75-72-69-70.
287 - Nick CULLEN (AUS) 75-71-69-72, Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 69-69-73-76.
288 - Jason NORRIS (AUS) 72-72-72-72, Ted OH (KOR) 69-74-71-74.
289 - Ryan CARTER (USA) 75-73-73-68, LIM Hyun-seok (KOR) 74-75-72-68, KIM Geon-ha (KOR) 74-72-72-71, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 71-70-70-78.
290 - YOON Se-jun (USA) 75-73-70-72, Brad SHILTON (NZL) 73-69-75-73, Lucas LEE (BRA) 69-74-72-75, LEE Sung-ho (KOR) 73-71-71-75.
291 - Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) 78-70-72-71, LI Hao-tong (CHN) 70-77-72-72, SU Dong (CHN) 75-72-72-72, Garrett SAPP (USA) 71-71-76-73.
292 - YU Gyoung-yoon (KOR) 72-72-73-75, Michael CHOI (AUS) 79-70-68-75.
293 - HU Mu (CHN) 74-76-73-70, Chris CAMPBELL (AUS) 74-73-74-72, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 75-71-74-73, LI Xin-yang (CHN) 72-73-73-75.
294 - PARK Sung-hyuk (KOR) 77-73-73-71, Peter WILSON (AUS) 74-76-73-71, Andrew KELLY (AUS) 74-73-75-72, Brent WITCHER (USA) 77-71-72-74, Eric MINA (USA) 68-75-75-76, Dimitrios PAPADATOS (AUS) 76-70-72-76, Stephen DARTNALL (AUS) 74-73-71-76.
295 - Annop TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 74-71-76-74, KIM Bi-o (KOR) 75-71-74-75, David McKENZIE (AUS) 76-72-72-75, Michael LONG (NZL) 75-75-68-77.
296 - PARK Bae-jong (KOR) 70-75-77-74, Stephen ALLAN (AUS) 75-75-71-75.
297 - KIM Jin-kyung (KOR) 77-71-77-72, Andre STOLZ (AUS) 79-68-77-73.
298 - CHOI Bo-kyu (KOR) 75-73-74-76, HSIEH Chi-hsien (TPE) 78-72-70-78, Michael WRIGHT (AUS) 75-66-78-79, George GANDRANATA (INA) 75-71-72-80.
299 - SUNG Mao-chang (TPE) 76-74-77-72, HUANG Ming-jie (CHN) 76-74-74-75, SHIN Hyuk-chul (KOR) 73-75-75-76, YUAN Tian (CHN) 75-74-74-76.
300 - WEI Wei (CHN) 74-76-77-73, WANG Lei (CHN) 75-73-75-77.
302 - DOU Ze-cheng* (CHN) 75-75-75-77, GU Hua-jun (CHN) 74-72-77-79.
303 - TIAN Ye (CHN) 77-73-76-77, YE Xiong-hui (CHN) 78-71-76-78.
304 - CHEN Ding-gen (CHN) 76-74-73-81.
305 - Tommy MANSUWAN (THA) 77-73-79-76, FAN Zhi-peng (CHN) 76-72-77-80.