Pablo Larrazabal produces incredible fightback to win Alfred Dunhill Championship


Pablo Larrazabal used Tiger Woods as inspiration to fightback and claim a one stroke victory after struggling on a dramatic final day at Leopard Creek 

Pablo Larrazabal fought back in dramatic fashion to clinch his fifth European Tour title by a shot at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa on eight-under-par with a final round 75.

Despite holding a three-shot overnight lead, he woke up battling a blister on his foot that caused him enough pain to doubt whether he'd even tee it up. 

He quickly fell backwards during a round where he carded six bogeys and a double-bogey, but produced an incredible fightback with three birdies on his final four holes to edge out Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm by one.

Afterwards, Larrazabal was quick to reference Tiger Woods' 2008 U.S. Open win as inspiration for him being able to turn it around.

"I woke up this morning and I didn't think I was going to play," Larrazabal said. "I couldn't put my shoe on, I couldn't walk to the buggy. I couldn't go to the putting green.

"I really struggled today. For the front nine I couldn't walk and then on the back nine I suddenly thought to myself, 'If Tiger can win a US Open with a broken leg, then what is a blister?!'. I just fought hard."

Larrazabal began the day three shots clear but his struggles became apparent from the outset, missing the green with his approach to the first and dropping his first of three shots in his first five holes. 

That handed Will Besseling a share of the lead, and despite recovering immediately with an up-and-down birdie at the sixth, Larrazabal then found the water at the seventh on his way to a double-bogey and dropped out of the top spot for the first time on Sunday.

He was then unable to save par at the eighth before showing his frustration after a hooked drive by throwing a club and removing a shoe, going on to make another bogey and finding himself six over par through nine.

Both players matched birdies at the driveable 11th, but Larrazabal one again gave Besseling the upper-hand following another wild drive that saw him needing to take a drop before failing to get up and down from the bunker to save par. 

At the 14th, fortunes began to chance. Larrazabal recovered from another wayward drive, but this time it was Besseling who struggled to a double-bogey, which left Joel Sjöholm out in front alone on on seven under.

Besseling reached the 15th green in two and birdied to draw level at the top of the leaderboard but Larrazábal also converted from six feet to get to within one, and then rolled in a 15 footer at the 16th to make it a three-way tie at the top.

At the last hole, Besseling failed to get up and down from trouble to save par, and Larrazabal took control, firing his approach to just a couple of feet and seeing in the birdie for victory.

“It’s been a long road the last few years and this is where I want to be,” Larrazabal said of his first win since 2015. “I want to thank all my family and my wife. This is a place that I really love and I will come back until I cannot play anymore.

“Being a winner again means so much. I’ve been working hard. I put as many hours in as I’ve put in in my golfing career and this is what for.”