Larrazabal inspired by Iniesta triumph - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Larrazabal inspired by Iniesta triumph

Of all the professionals who skipped into the recorders' hut here yesterday after a low-scoring first round of the European Open, none bore a smile any wider than that of Pablo Larrazabal. There was a very good reason for it: Larrazabal happens to be a rabid Barcelona fan who has been close friends with one Andres Iniesta since the pair played football together on the same school team.

Indeed, so delighted was the 26-year-old with the Champions' League triumph on Wednesday night – and, of course, with his former team-mate's man-of-the-match contribution – that he draped a Barcelona flag over his golf bag and carried his replica shirt to bring some luck. It seemed to do the trick for the Spaniard, who after winning the French Open last June was tipped as the Tour's next sensation. Larrazabal is still waiting for his first top 20 finish of 2009, but began yesterday with an encouraging two-under par 70 to stand five off Anders Hansen's lead.

"Maybe I was a little inspired by our tremendous win," said Larrazabal. "Coming from Barcelona I'm a huge fan and I went to school with Andres Iniesta. We are good friends and I'll ring him with my congratulations. The goalkeeper, Víctor Valdes, was also at our school. In fact, most of the Barcelona players went there, and I played in the same team as them. That made me want to go to the final even more."

Larrazabal even considered pulling out of this £1.8m event, especially when his Nou Camp contacts secured him tickets. "I had six in all and I was thinking of going to Rome with some friends and then flying back," he said. "But all the flights were booked and I haven't been playing well enough to justify a private plane. So I watched the game in my hotel room – by myself. I needed to be alone."

There was also the little matter of a 8.10am tee-off time to preclude any wild celebrations and when he holed his approach from 104 yards for an eagle two on the par-four 13th his restraint appeared to be about to pay rich dividends. But showing the erratic tendency that threatens to blight such a promising career, the 2008 rookie of the year proceeded to drop five shots in his next five holes. Still, four successive birdies from the first onwards kept him in touch with the pacesetters on a congested leaderboard which includes Rory McIlory and Sergio Garcia on three-under, but not Shane Lowry whose professional career began with an ugly 78.

It meant Larrazabal could retire to the clubhouse a happy man and regale his fellow pros with tales about the times he ran out alongside Iniesta. And one particular reminiscence should have Premier League scouts rushing for the next plane. "We were 14 and 15 when we on the same team, but no, Andres was not our star player," he said. "It was another midfielder named Jorge Troiteiro. He had more technique than Iniesta. I think he is playing in the Spanish third division now."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms