Six-month high for Hoey as Aphibarnrat crushes teenager Li's dream
  Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of the inaugural Shenzhen International. Picture © Getty Images

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of the inaugural Shenzhen International. Picture © Getty Images

Michael Hoey posted his best finish in six months with a share of 25th in the Shenzhen International in China.

Searching for form after an erratic start to the season, the five-time European Tour winner closed with a 69 to share 25th place on six under, six shots outside a playoff that saw Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat break the hear of Chinese teenager Hao-tong Li with a birdie at the first extra hole.

A seven under par weekend that featured an eagle, nine birdies and some solid putting will do Hoey’s confidence no harm as the meat of the season approaches.

The highlight the Ulsterman's round was an eagle three at the ninth, while the cheque for     €23,054 edges him up to 105th in the Race to Dubai standings after his first 10 starts of the campaign.

As for the spoils, overnight leader Aphibarnrat rallied late on to force a play-off against Chinese teenage sensation Li Hao-Tong.

Li shot a 67 to post 12 under and watched on TV to see if he would become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil.

But Aphibarnrat sensationally eagled the 17th hole with a putt from 20 feet to emerge from a congested leaderboard and draw level with the 19-year old on 12 under par.

An excellent approach from a fairway bunker gave the Thai a putt to win the tournament in regulation play, but his effort slipped to the right of the hole, meaning he and Li would return to the 18th tee.

Aphibarnrat, whose only previous European Tour victory had come at the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open, repeated his approach to find the middle of the green, while Li left himself a much longer putt.

And after the Chinese player made par, Aphibarnrat sand his putt for birdie and celebrated loudly before kissing the green with delight and embracing his mother.

Tommy Fleetwood, who finished runner-up at Genzon Golf Club in last year’s Volvo China Open, occupied third place on 11 under par after closing with a round of 69.

Aphibarnrat said: “Special thanks goes to my caddie, he was always pushing me. When we were two behind on the last two holes he said you have not lost, we have not signed the scorecard yet. He was completely right, and I just got the job done.

“I had a chance to win in 72 holes, but the putt in the play-off is the best putt I have ever made in my life.

“I’ve been struggling for a year. I lost my coach (Natpasit Chokthanasart, who died in December 2013), then changed my equipment. There have been lots of changes since I won, so I’m so happy to get my hands on another trophy.”

As for Li Hao-tong, he said: “Today I make a lot of birdies again, but Kiradech played so well at the end, so congratulations to him. I was very nervous at the end of my round and in the play-off, but this was a very good experience for me, and I really enjoyed it.”

Shenzen International, Genzon GC (Par 72)

276 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 67 69 68 72, L Hao-Tong (Chn) 71 73 65 67,

277 T Fleetwood (Eng) 70 69 69 69,

278 D Howell (Eng) 71 70 69 68, J Quesne (Fra) 71 69 73 65, T Lewis (Eng) 72 71 66 69, H Wen-Yi (Chn) 66 74 70 68, Y Yang (Kor) 72 71 66 69, M Crespi (Ita) 69 70 72 67, P Uihlein (USA) 67 68 71 72,

279 R Ramsay (Sco) 72 73 66 68, W Ormsby (Aus) 73 73 67 66, A Wall (Eng) 69 72 69 69, E Grillo (Arg) 71 67 70 71,

280 S Hend (Aus) 70 70 68 72, R Fisher (Eng) 69 74 68 69, T Hatton (Eng) 72 70 69 69, A Quiros (Esp) 72 71 74 63, G Bourdy (Fra) 72 72 70 66, L Bjerregaard (Den) 72 67 74 67, G Havret (Fra) 70 68 73 69,

281 D Fichardt (RSA) 68 70 71 72, K Broberg (Swe) 73 69 67 72, P Larrazábal (Esp) 73 69 65 74,

282 M Fraser (Aus) 72 71 68 71, J Campillo (Esp) 72 71 69 70, A Levy (Fra) 71 70 69 72, M Hoey (Nir) 74 71 68 69,

283 F Zhi-Peng (Chn) 70 72 70 71, C Wood (Eng) 75 70 69 69, M Manassero (Ita) 69 70 74 70, B Watson (USA) 70 74 74 65, M Kieffer (Ger) 72 70 72 69,

284 M Ford (Eng) 69 69 70 76, R Wattel (Fra) 69 74 69 72, J Kruger (RSA) 71 74 67 72, N Fasth (Swe) 73 69 71 71, R Bland (Eng) 71 71 70 72,

285 F Aguilar (Chi) 67 75 74 69, A Otaegui (Esp) 76 69 73 67, M Korhonen (Fin) 71 72 72 70, D Horsey (Eng) 70 71 74 70, B Evans (Eng) 75 71 71 68,

286 G Stal (Fra) 70 74 69 73, A Noren (Swe) 73 71 71 71, R Paratore (Ita) 72 71 72 71,

287 R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 69 75 70 73, M Carlsson (Swe) 73 73 69 72, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 71 70 76 70, H Ze-Yu (Chn) 73 73 68 73,

288 G Mulroy (RSA) 69 74 71 74,

289 S Kapur (Ind) 69 74 70 76, L Yan-Wei (Chn) 73 73 69 74,

290 A Sullivan (Eng) 69 75 72 74,

291 Y Yechun (Chn) 71 75 76 69,

292 M Madsen (Den) 71 71 74 76, J Carlsson (Swe) 72 74 76 70,

293 W Wei-Huang (Chn) 70 73 71 79, M Nixon (Eng) 73 73 70 77,

294 Z Xin-Jun (Chn) 72 74 71 77, C Lee (Sco) 75 71 78 70,

295 E Pepperell (Eng) 73 72 74 76, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 72 73 74 76, L Gui-Ming (Chn) 74 71 72 78,

296 R Jacquelin (Fra) 71 74 74 77, Y Yi-Nong (Chn) 70 73 78 75,

301 D Lipsky (USA) 73 68 79 81.