American Schauffele, the overnight leader, shot a four-under round of 67 - to go with rounds of 68, 63 and 68 earlier in the week - to finish -18 and edge Slovakia’s Sabbatini by a shot, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Colin Morikawa, Team GB’s Paul Casey and home hero Hideki Matsuyama among those finishing tied for third on -15.
Schauffele began the morning a shot clear of Matsuyama and four birdies on the front-nine seemed to have put him firmly in control on -18 at the turn.
However, an outrageous round of ten-under from bolter Sabbatini took the clubhouse lead and a bogey on 14 from Schauffele saw the pair tied on -17 until a birdie from the World No5 on the penultimate hole, and a superb approach to set up a comfortable par putt on 18, ultimately earned him the gold medal.
That left Sabbatini, whose citizenship change from South Africa to Slovakia in 2019 was presumed to be to qualify him for these Games, to celebrate a silver that had seemed near impossible at the start of the day.
Casey had been hoping to emulate Justin Rose’s gold for Great Britain at the Rio Games five years ago but Schauffele’s birdie-birdie start meant he was always up against it to challenge his playing partner.
Both he and Matsuyama had putts on the 18th green to clinch bronze outright but neither could find the bottom of the cup.
In the end, they were the first two knocked out of contention in the playoff, which saw the seven gradually whittled down to two before Pan triumphed over Morikawa on the fourth extra hole.