- European Tour
Larrazabal holds off big two to win in Abu Dhabi
Pablo Larrazabal holed a nerve-jangling four-foot putt for birdie to hold off the challenge of Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson and win the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi for his third European Tour title.
Larrazabal had to watch on nervously as Mickelson attempted a long-range putt on the last for an eagle that would have forced a play-off, but it drifted wide right of the hole. Larrazabal had moments earlier signed for a 67, compared to McIlroy's 68 and Mickelson's 69, while overnight leader Craig Lee of Scotland collapsed to a final-round 77.
For Mickelson and McIlroy, it was a case of what might have been. McIlroy's error had come on Saturday when he incurrred a two-shot penalty for taking a drop from ground under repair then playing with his foot still in the demarcated area.
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Mickelson's blunder was equally ill-thought, as he decided to play from under a bush on the 13th and ended up with a double-hit, which led to a triple bogey.
"You know me, I've done some crazy s*** in my career," said Mickelson when asked if he could remember ever previously incurring a double-hit. "I go up and then I go down."
While the big names were losing their heads, Larrazabal kept his. Despite getting stuck in the rough on the 14th, his glorious chip to a foot saved par and ultimately proved decisive. An equally impressive approach to the par-5 18th put him in the driving seat, but a weak eagle putt left him a four-footer for birdie that he stroked into the middle of the cup.
McIlroy chose to take the positives afterwards: "Obviously, I'm standing here a little frustrated," he told EuropeanTour.com. "This is now my third second-placed finish here. But it's been a positive week, a really positive start to the season. I feel like I've played really well and I've got a week off now to prepare for Dubai.
"I came in here telling everyone that I'm really happy with my game and done some good work and felt like it was coming together for me at the end of last year. I've continued that on, so I'm really excited for the rest of the season."