Drawcard Nick Price wanted to leave on his jet plane with the Macau Open title in his hand. But Zhang Lianwei made certain that Price would not be encumbered by any excess baggage after holding his nerve to win a dramatic sudden death struggle that was decided on the fifth playoff hole yesterday. The Chinese number one forced a playoff with a last-gasp birdie at the 18th hole in regulation play. It saw him tie Price for a four-round total of seven-under-par 277. Then the drama began as both players stubbornly refused to wilt under the pressure and went shot-for-shot four times around the 18th hole. With darkness drawing in and a full moon rising over the South China Sea, Zhang and Price slugged it out like two heavyweight boxers at the scenic last hole at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Both had their chances, but in the end it was Price who blinked first after a poor approach shot on the fifth playoff hole saw the ball roll under an advertising hoarding bordering the green. The three-time Major winner took a drop and chipped to four feet from the flag. To his horror, he then missed the par putt to give Zhang, who had played composedly all along in the playoff duel, a deserved victory. 'It was the toughest win of my career,' said Zhang. 'Not only was it the first time that I had to play five playoff holes, but facing an opponent of the calibre of Nick Price did not make it any easier. But in the end my determination, conviction and commitment gave me victory.' Price had all these factors in plenty too. But luck was not with him. A 15-foot birdie putt lipped out agonisingly in regulation play and he had came close on three more occasions during the playoff. 'It was so frustrating having hung in there all day to lose like that. I made three good putts in the playoff holes but the green was like trying to read Chinese. But I guess it is just as well it was over at that stage,' shrugged Price, who left immediately after the prize presentation to board his private jet parked at the Coloane airport to return home to Florida. Zhang, picked by Price as the man to beat at the end of the third round, stayed true to those great expectations. The 37-year-old Shenzhen resident had laid the foundation for his successful title-defence with a solid opening nine holes, where he collected two birdies to take the lead for the first time in the tournament. But he began to look frayed at the edges on the back nine, bogeying the 13th and 14th holes to let slip a three-shot lead over Swede Stephen Lindskog and a two-shot lead over Price, both of whom were in his flight and had been in contention all day. 'At that stage I felt it was slipping away from me. I had played a couple of bad shots and I knew that if I didn't tighten up my game I would blow the chance of defending my title. I decided to just go for it,' said Zhang. He had no option but to take that approach after Price holed a fantastic 35-feet putt on the 17th hole to go seven-under and take the lead for the first time for the day. 'The timing was great, wasn't it?' grinned Price. But he had used up his birdie quota for the day. 'I didn't play well at all. Over the last three days I only had four birdies. You can't win a tournament like that. But I hung in there and felt I had a chance at the end. But Zhang played the playoff holes well,' said the Zimbabwean. While not leaving exactly empty-handed - his appearance fee alone was well in excess of the US$40,375 winner's cheque that Zhang pocketed - Price was clearly a disappointed man. Getting money to turn up at a tournament is one thing. But taking home the winner's cheque is a completely different matter. For Price is well aware that in the final analysis, it is winning titles that will keep him in the picture as an attractive marquee player to headline events like this. Keep losing and Price, or any other big-name player, loses his marketable value and can be got at a cut-price. Price, who won the British Open title in 1994 and the US PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994, knows the pitfalls, especially in his twilight years on the professional tour. Turning 46 in January, Price was keen to add the Macau Open title to his list of accomplishments. But the defending champion had other plans. Zhang stayed cool all day and refused to buckle as others, especially Taiwanese duo Tsai Chi-huang and Wang Ter-chang, made sporadic bids to move up the leaderboard. Overnight leader Lindskog scuttled his bid on the first hole on the way back home, double-bogeying the 10th, to part company with Zhang at the top. Lindskog had another bogey at the 14th but retrieved his position a bit with a birdie on the following hole. But he could only par the next three holes to finish one shot behind joint-leaders Price and Zhang. 'This was the best finish this year for me. I'm happy because of that, but sad at the same time that I could not push myself into a winning position at the end,' said Lindskog. If he had made it a threesome, then most probably Price would not have been able to leave on his jet plane last night. The tournament organisers were already making contingency plans of continuing the playoff duel today due to the darkening conditions. But luckily, for Zhang, Price blinked to hand him his second Macau title on the trot.