Dylan Frittelli came agonisingly close to his first European Tour victory, but squandered a five-shot lead to eventually lose in a play-off to Alexander Levy, who became the first man to win the China Open twice.
The 2014 champion began the final round four seven shots behind the overnight leader, but birdied the last in 67 to get to 17-under 271 and pile the pressure on the South African.
Frittelli sent his second shot into the last over the hospitality tent and had to settle for a par, a closing 74 and a trip back up the 18th.
Levy found the fairway off the tee, while Frittelli sent his drive right into a bunker, but after the Frenchman found sand with his second, both men were left with birdie putts.
Frittelli missed his attempt and Levy (pictured) rolled home from 15 feet to claim victory.
The triumph offers Levy some redemption after he lost a play-off in China at the 2014 BMW Masters, and hands him his second consecutive victory via a play-off, after his win at the Porsche European Open in September.
For Frittelli it was a second play-off defeat, after the 2016 Australian PGA Championship, but Levy – now a four-time winner – is already targeting a home Ryder Cup appearance at Le Golf National in 2018.
‘It’s a goal and a dream for me to play the Ryder Cup in France,’ he said. ‘I will do a lot of work to play the Ryder Cup and I will do my best to be part of the team.’
Pablo Larrazábal began the day as Frittelli’s closest challenger, and the Spaniard signed for a closing 72 to finish at 16-under, a shot clear of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and England’s Chris Wood.
Larrazábal three-putted the first and then failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the par three second, and Frittelli’s lead was quickly up to five shots.
The leader had played the first four holes in textbook fashion, but a putt from the fringe on the fifth almost rolled back to his feet and he dropped a first shot in 44 holes.
A recovery came quickly, however, with Frittelli putting his approach to the seventh to two feet and moving back to 19 under.
Larrazábal hit a stunning second into the par five eighth and while he had to settle for a birdie, Frittelli could only make par after failing to get up and down from the sand.
Levy made a steady start before going birdie-bogey-birdie from the sixth, and when he hit a stunning approach to tap-in range on the ninth to turn in 34, he was creeping up on the leader.
Another birdie on the 11th had Levy alongside Larrazábal, but that was soon just two back as Frittelli made a mess of the 12th. He had to take a drop after resting against a tree off the tee, and two poor shots around the green saw him record a double-bogey.
Levy then played a beautiful chip on the short par four 15th and the lead was down to only a single shot.
Frittelli responded brilliantly, driving the same hole and then getting down in two, but he did not do well to bogey the next after putting his tee-shot next to a large rock and leaving his first putt short.
A fourth clutch putt in a row from around six feet sent Frittelli to the last tee with a one-shot lead, but ahead of him Levy hit the green in two for a birdie to set up the late drama.
Wiesberger carded a closing 67 with Wood signing for a 68.
YE Yang recorded the round of the day in a 66 to join Ross Fisher at 14-under, a shot clear of George Coetzee, who was alone in eighth spot on 275 after a final round 68.
Justin Walters finished tied 13th after a closing 69 for 278, while Darren Fichardt posted a 67 for 279 and a share of 18th, along with Brandon Stone who had a final round 68 and also 279.
Jaco van Zyl had a level par finishing 72 for 280 and a tie for 24th, but Dean Burmester bogeyed four of the final six holes and also had a triple bogey six at the 15th to have a round of 80, and finished tied 65th on 290.
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