Pablo Larrazabal’s blistering finish seals Alfred Dunhill

Spaniard could barely walk with pain in his feet but rallied to take a remarkable victory

Pablo Larrazabal of Spain poses for a photo with the Alfred Dunhill Championship Trophy after at Leopard Creek Country Golf Club in Malelane, South Africa. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Pablo Larrazabal of Spain poses for a photo with the Alfred Dunhill Championship Trophy after at Leopard Creek Country Golf Club in Malelane, South Africa. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

 

Pablo Larrazabal revealed he had taken inspiration from Tiger Woods after producing a remarkable turnaround to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The Spaniard started the day three shots clear but struggled with blisters on his feet and swing problems throughout the final round.

He removed his shoes and threw a club in frustration after a wild hook down the left from the ninth tee, where he carded one of six bogeys as well as a double.

Those eight dropped shots saw the 36-year-old fall three off the pace at one stage but Larrazabal regrouped to make three birdies in his last four holes to seal victory with a 75 and eight-under-par total.

“I woke up this morning and I didn’t think I was going to play,” Larrazabal, who revealed Woods’ victory at the 2008 US Open while suffering from a fractured tibia and damaged cruciate ligament had given him the motivation to continue, told Sky Sports.

“I couldn’t put my shoe on, I couldn’t walk to the buggy. I really struggled on the back nine, I have a big blister on my right toe and I said to myself ‘If Tiger can win a US Open with a broken leg...‘ and I just fought hard.”

Larrazabal plays his second shot on the 14th. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Larrazabal plays his second shot on the 14th. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Larrazabal bogeyed the first, third and fifth to swiftly hand Wil Besseling a share of the lead and, despite making an up-and-down from the sand at the driveable sixth for birdie, found water for the third day running at the short seventh and double bogeyed.

Further dropped shots followed at the eighth and ninth, where Larrazabal’s second only avoided water because it hit an advertising board, to leave a fifth European Tour title looking in doubt as he turned in 41 to trail Besseling by two.

After a birdie at the 11th, Larrazabal had another wild hook at the 13th and bogeyed but with Besseling faltering with a double bogey at the 14th remained within touching distance of the lead.

Larrazabal and Besseling both birdied the 15th and the former then rolled in a 15-footer at the next to join the Dutchman and Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm in the lead.

Sjoholm could not birdie the par-five last and, when Besseling’s second nestled on rocks behind the green to lead to a bogey, Larrazabal was left with a tap-in birdie after a fine approach to seal victory.

Sjoholm finished second on seven under, with Besseling and South African pair Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel a shot further back in third — the latter on his return from a seven-month injury lay-off.

Larrazabal walks down the eighth fairway with his shoes off due to the pain in his feet. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Larrazabal walks down the eighth fairway with his shoes off due to the pain in his feet. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

For Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell a final round of 71 saw him secure a tied-14th finish on his first European Tour start since securing his card at qualifying school, earning him a cheque for €20,550.

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Alfred Dunhill Championship, Leopard Creek CC, Malelane, South Africa (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

280 Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 66 69 70 75

281 Joel Sjoholm (Swe) 70 74 68 69

282 Wil Besseling (Ned) 65 73 70 74, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 70 72 70 70, Branden Grace (Rsa) 68 70 71 73

284 Daniel Van Tonder (Rsa) 68 75 73 68

285 Justin Harding (Rsa) 70 73 71 71, MJ Viljoen (Rsa) 72 71 69 73, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 72 70 69 74, Johannes Veerman (USA) 72 71 70 72

286 Garrick Porteous 66 75 75 70, Connor Syme 69 75 73 69

287 Calum Hill 73 73 71 70

288 Robin Roussel (Fra) 68 75 74 71, Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl) 74 69 74 71, Laurie Canter 71 73 70 74, Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 69 72 75 72, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 70 74 72 72

289 Christiaan Basson (Rsa) 71 74 77 67, Eddie Pepperell 71 73 72 73, Renato Paratore (Ita) 74 71 75 69

290 Alex Haindl (Rsa) 71 72 76 71, (a) Dylan Naidoo (Rsa) 71 72 76 71

291 Jaco Ahlers (Rsa) 72 72 72 75, Clement Sordet (Fra) 72 75 71 73, George Coetzee (Rsa) 73 71 72 75, Jack Harrison 71 72 78 70, Lars Van Meijel (Ned) 74 70 76 71, Daniel Greene (Rsa) 72 73 72 74, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 67 77 74 73, Keith Horne (Rsa) 66 79 72 74, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 72 73 72 74

292 Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 68 72 78 74, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 72 71 80, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 74 73 72 73

293 Jacques Blaauw (Rsa) 73 73 74 73, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 71 73 78 71, David Drysdale 68 77 70 78, Jack Singh Brar 68 72 75 78, Benjamin Poke (Den) 73 72 72 76, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 74 67 78 74

294 Marcus Armitage 70 70 71 83, Richard Bland 76 71 69 78, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 69 76 70 79, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 71 72 78 73, Jayden Trey Schaper (Rsa) 73 73 70 78, Pedro Figueiredo (Por) 72 74 77 71, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 74 70 80 70

295 Hennie Otto (Rsa) 78 68 74 75, Jeff Winther (Den) 75 72 72 76, Matthew Jordan 69 74 80 72, Thriston Lawrence (Rsa) 77 68 79 71, Rasmus Hojgaard (a) (Den) 72 70 78 75, Gregory Havret (Fra) 72 72 70 81

296 JC Ritchie (Rsa) 72 71 79 74, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 73 71 75 77, Grant Forrest 68 79 73 76, James Morrison 72 71 78 75

297 David Law 72 75 76 74, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 72 75 78 72

298 Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 70 76 75 77, Oliver Wilson 73 73 77 75, Martin Rohwer (Rsa) 69 75 76 78

299 Ernie Els (Rsa) 74 73 75 77, Toby Tree 70 73 81 75, Keenan Davidse (Rsa) 76 71 76 76, Lee Slattery 72 75 73 79

302 Carlos Pigem (Spa) 74 71 81 76

307 Ross Fisher 74 73 81 79, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 72 73 88 74

308 Oliver Bekker (Rsa) 73 71 80 84

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