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Alfred Dunhill Championship report

Larrazabal puts pain aside to return to winner’s circle

Pablo Larrazabal almost saw his fifth European Tour victory slip away on the final day in South Africa
 

Alfred Dunhill Championship report: What happened at Leopard Creek?

Pablo Larrazabal won his first title in four years after surviving a final-round meltdown before securing his first Alfred Dunhill Championship title with a score of 8-under.

Heading into the final round few would have guessed that Larrazabal would have needed to birdie the last to win as he began Sunday three shots clear of his competitors.

But front-nine troubles, largely put down to the pain of blisters on his feet (more on that later), saw him fall back into the pack and bring a whole host of players into contention.

His playing partner Wil Besseling looked to be the one to step up but Swedish fan favourite Joel Sjoholm had other ideas.

He took the clubhouse lead with Besseling and Larrazabal coming up 18 on the same score. Besseling went long and was only saved from the water by the rocks but he was left with a near-impossible return shot and a bogey followed.

Contrastingly, Larrazabal put his third shot to two feet and left a tap-in for birdie to secure the title. The putt topped off one of the most erratic winning rounds and he became the first player in European Tour history to drop eight shots in the final round and go on to win โ€“ he carded six bogeys and a double in his closing 75.

Elsewhere four-time winner Charl Schwartzel enjoyed a good return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off and had a chance to join the leaders on his final hole when he left a good look at eagle but he rolled it just by.

Fellow countryman Zander Lombard looked set for a top-five finish but a triple-bogey at the last saw him slip into a tie for 7th.

Alfred Dunhill Championship report: What the winner said

Alfred Dunhill Championship report: Talking points

There was a considerably notable first that occurred at this weekโ€™s event thanks to the baking sunshine.

At the beginning of the week it was decided that players would be able to wear shorts throughout the competition, much to the delight of several pros.

This is the first time in European Tour history that players have been permitted to wear shorts during tournament days and we could see it become the norm in future.

**

A contributing factor in the final-round near collapse of Larrazabal was undoubtedly the pain he was suffering from blisters on both of his feet.

The Spaniardโ€™s problem really began on the back nine on Saturday and it seemed to get worse from there. On Sundayย he struggled with his swing and was clearly frustrated, both at his feet situation and his performance, presumably.

At one point, after hooking his drive severely left, Larrazabal slammed his driver on the floor and sat down to take his shoes off and proceeded to walk to his ball without shoes.

Alfred Dunhill Championship report

He completed the rest of his round wearing his shoes but as our instruction editor Andrew Wright found out recently, it may not have been a bad idea to keep them off.

Joe Hughes

Tour editor covering men's golf, women's golf and anything else that involves the word golf, really. The talk is far better than the game, but the work has begun to change that.

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