Schauffele, who would have been the first player to retain the WGC-HSBC Champions title had he won, started the day two shots back but surmounted a fightback with a final-round six-under-par 66 which brought him level with McIlroy.

The American conjured a moment of brilliance by sinking a six-foot birdie putt on the last to force the playoff with McIlroy, who missed a 25-footer that would have seen him snatch the outright win in regulation play.

On the first playoff hole, McIlroy's birdie was enough to secure his fourth title of the year after the American, who was battling flu all week, was unable to reach the green in two after hitting his drive into the left rough.

RIGHT: Schauffele would’ve become the first player to win back-to-back WGC-HSBC Champions titles. PHOTO: /Getty Images.

McIlroy, on the other hand, hit a wonderful drive and found the green in two to set himself up for a birdie which Schauffele could not match.

“This third WGC win was so hard. I felt after shooting 10-under par for the first two days, thinking going bogey-free over the weekend, I thought that would probably be enough to get the job done. I played 73 holes this week with Xander, and I have to give credit to him. He's battled the flu all week and he's played unbelievably well considering how he's been feeling,” McIlroy said.

Victory at the Sheshan International Golf Club was McIlroy's third World Golf Championships (WGC) title, and first since the Dell Technologies Match Play in 2015.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond ended his week with a commendable tied-14th finish after rounds of 70, 69, 69 and 70 in what was his first WGC event in Shanghai.

Former World No.1 Adam Scott was the best of the Australians, sharing 11th place.