Ireland's Padraig Harrington won his tenth European Tour title to charge into contention for the Order of Merit title.
Harrington carded a final-round 68 at St Andrews for a five-shot victory over Anthony Wall, American Edward Loar and overnight leader Bradley Dredge in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Ernie Els eagled the 18th after driving the green to be fifth on ten under.
The first prize of £427,441 lifted Harrington into second on the money-list, £147,900 behind Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey who closed with a 68 for a share of sixth place.
"It's big, it's a huge deal," said Harrington, who finished second on the Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002 and third in the following two years.
"It's got to be something you want to put on to your CV; the Order of Merit is directly behind the majors.
"This time of year every-thing is about the Order of Merit, it gets you going again. I've been using it as motivation after the Ryder Cup to get out on the golf course and push on.
"If I'd been further back I would have found it harder to come out and play such good golf."
Who will succeed Colin Montgomerie as European No 1 depends on the Mallorca Classic from October 19-22 and the Volvo Masters the following week at Valderrama.
Harrington had not planned to play in Mallorca but added: "Valderrama has not been the happiest hunting ground for me so anything I can get in Mallorca could push me up a bit. I have to give myself the best possible chance."
The 35-year-old, who has had 29 second-place finishes, began the final round a shot behind Dredge but wiped that out with a birdie on the first.
Dredge went back in front with a birdie on the fifth after a superb long bunker shot from an awkward stance but Harrington pegged him back again on the ninth.
The 11th hole resulted in a three-shot swing in the Irish-man's favour. Dredge found Strath bunker off the tee and was forced to play out backwards on his way to a double-bogey five while Harrington holed from ten feet for a birdie two.
That allowed Harrington to cruise to his second victory in the event in four years, and he also helped partner J P McManus to win the team competition for the second time as well.
"I hadn't won in Europe for two years, although I won twice in America last year, but it's great to come back and win," he said. "You never want to go a year without a win. It's very special to win and I'm really happy the way I did it.
"I played great yesterday (a 68 at windswept Carnoustie) and backed it up again today."
Casey, who overtook Ryder Cup team-mate David Howell on the money-list by winning the World Matchplay at Wentworth last month, led by one shot after an opening 63 at Kingsbarns but struggled to rounds of 74 and 73 at St Andrews and Carnoustie.
"After a tough Friday and Saturday, to post a top-six finish is a good result," the 29-year-old said. "I felt I ground it out well.
"The HSBC was a tough week but the Ryder Cup is, without a doubt, the toughest week I've ever experienced in golf, physically and mentally."
Dredge, who won the European Masters on his previous appearance, finished with a 74 but at least birdied the last to share second instead of a share of fourth  a putt worth £73,000.
He said: "It was worth a few bob and I was quite aware of that. I didn't have a very good day so it was nice to finish with a plus. I thought my tee shot on the 11th was perfect and it was straight down the flag only to see it disappear in the bunker. From there I didn't have a shot."
Atherstone's Paul Broad-hurst lifted himself into 16th place in the Order of Merit after a last-round 68 left him joint eight. A cheque for £48,905 for his week's work took his season's winnings to £747,814 and left him one place and just over £5,000 ahead of Worcestershire's John Bickerton.