Shanghai: Rory McIlroy enjoyed a $2 million pay day on Sunday after a nerve-shredding play off with American Anthony Kim who came within a whisker of claiming the lavish purse at the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters.
The pair duelled in a tense sudden death on the tricky par four 18th hole for the biggest cash prize in golf.
Nothing separated the players at the last, with their approach shots landing four feet apart in the bunker under the green amid disbelieving gasps from the grandstand.
But Kim gifted McIlroy the most lucrative cheque of his career when he missed a crucial three foot putt after a precision bunker shot.
McIlroy, the world number three, tapped in from two feet to complete a pleasing first week's work and take home a bulging wage packet.
"It was a very important win. I'll be the first to say I have not won enough in the last four years as pro and could have done a lot more," McIlroy said after the unsanctioned event which has raised eyebrows with its massive purse.
"I was under pressure on the back nine and one shot behind, so to be able come back and win gives me a lot of satisfaction," the 22-year-old added.
He will celebrate with tennis ace girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki who flew into China on Sunday to join him.
Early nerves frazzled the US Open champion who dropped three shots - hitting the water and rough with wayward drives - and threatened to derail his title charge after leading the 30-strong field from the first day.
It allowed Kim, who picked up the $750,00 second prize, to take a one-shot lead but the Northern Irishman stormed back to card a par 72 and end the tournament tied on 18 under overall to force the play-off.
"I don't care how I win so long as my name is on the trophy," said McIlroy.
American Hunter Mahan and the impressive Korean youngster Noh Seung-Yul tied third, each on 13 under.
World number two Lee Westwood fired a magical ace on the par 3 12th to top a blistering last round surge, carding seven birdies - five on the front nine.
But his momentum waned and he bogeyed his last two holes to claim fifth on 12 under with England's Ian Poulter sealing sixth place a shot behind.
The final round was played in the best conditions of the inaugural tournament backed by billionaire property tycoon Shi Jian and his US-educated son Janson.
The $2 million kitty outstrips the other major offerings by a cool half million dollars but is not quite the record amount as claimed by the organisers throughout the competition.
The annual - and similarly unsanctioned - "African Major", the Nedbank Golf Challenge, in 2000 became the first tournament to offer $2 million to the winner, but has since spread the $4.8 million purse more evenly among the 12 players.
However, the Lake Malaren first place pot dwarfs current major tournaments.
Shi Jian, the chairman of SRE Group, and his 28-year-old son and executive director Janson who are funding the $5 million showpiece, have been criticised by the Asian Tour as puting up a "vanity" tournament for the world's elite.
The pair say they offered the massive payday to lure top players to the event and grab the attention of Chinese sports fans.