Wu Ashun became the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil on Sunday as David Howell bogeyed the 72nd hole of the Volvo China Open.
Howell needed to birdie the par-five 18th to win or make par to force a play-off after Wu had set the clubhouse target on nine under par in testing conditions at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
However, the former Ryder Cup player three-putted from the fringe after charging his birdie attempt seven feet past the hole to hand victory to world number 247 Wu.
Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, who double-bogeyed the 17th, shared third place on seven under with defending champion Alexander Levy and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, with 19-year-old Li Hao-tong following his runners-up finish in the Shenzhen International last week with sixth place after a bogey on the last.
“It’s a wonderful day,” Wu said. “Everybody knows it was very tough today with the wind. I played very good today, not up or down, just simple golf.
“It’s very special for a Chinese player to win the China Open. It’s very exciting to win a great tournament here. My heart is very happy.
“I had many friends here, the golf course owner and the China Golf Association, so everybody helped me a lot. They pushed me to play well and I did it. I just tried to do my best, to play well every week, every tournament, and this was the same.”
Howell, who had shared the overnight lead with Wu, Levy and Li, looked the most likely winner when he carded his fourth birdie of the day on the 11th to claim the outright lead, only to bogey the 14th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
That left him tied with Wu in the group ahead who had birdied the 10th and finished with eight straight pars to card a closing 71 which ultimately proved good enough for victory.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing,” Howell today European Tour Radio. “I was in good shape to win the tournament and didn’t get it done. That being said, I didn’t do an awful lot wrong.
“I holed a lovely putt on 17 to give myself a chance on the last and I kind of realised I was already in a play-off. Ashun was already in on nine under and I had it to win on the last and I had it to lose, which would have been the same if we’d gone into extra holes.
“It was tight all day but I was very calm. I wasn’t as nervous as sometimes I have been in that situation, which was pleasing. The thing I think cost me was my second shot to 14.
“I was in a good position, didn’t birdie 13 (a par five) when I was in the lead at that point and then hit a poor eight iron on 14, just a poor swing and got a bad lie in a waste area and made bogey which let everyone back into the tournament.”
Howell, who was also fourth in the Shenzhen International the previous week, added: “I’ve had two chances to win and played a lot more composed over the back nine this week than last week. I felt more in control of my game so it’s been a fantastic two weeks.
“Obviously it’s a crying shame for me not to have come home with the trophy but there’s I don’t know how many billions of people who are rather pleased I made six at the last.”