Pablo Larrazabal cashes in on ‘stupid’ Rory McIlroy blunder to win Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

 

Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday as Phil Mickelson imploded and a blunder by Rory McIlroy left him only able to claim a “moral victory” for the second time in three years.

Larrazabal carded a final round of 67 to finish 14 under par, one stroke ahead of McIlroy and Mickelson, who were both left to rue vital mistakes. For McIlroy it was taking an incorrect drop on the second hole of his third round, an error which cost him a two-shot penalty and left him fuming about golf’s “stupid rules”.

Two years ago, the former world No 1 was penalised two shots in his second round here for brushing away some sand that was not on the green but which lay between his ball and the flag. He went on to finish one behind surprise winner Robert Rock.

Mickelson’s wound was also self-inflicted, the Open champion leading by one when he ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 13th after attempting to hit a right-handed escape shot from under a bush, only to suffer a double hit when his ball struck the bush and bounced back on to his club.

The 43-year-old bounced back with birdies on the 14th and 16th, but was unable to find the eagle he needed on the 18th to force a play-off.

McIlroy had played alongside Larrazabal and the pair were both three under for the day after 11 holes, but while McIlroy’s challenge stalled with a run of seven straight pars, Larrazabal birdied the 13th and hit two superb shots to the heart of the 18th green to set up the decisive birdie.

“I can’t describe [how frustrating it is],” McIlroy said. “I feel like I’m standing here and I should be 15 under par for the tournament and win by one, but that’s the way it goes. I played the least shots of anyone this week. I can count it as a moral victory more than anything else.

“It’s a very positive start to the season so I’m not going to let one negative ruin that. I’m driving the ball well, hitting the ball solid and giving myself plenty of chances for birdies. And if I can keep doing that, the wins will come.”

Larrazabal thanked his coach, caddie, brother and two physical trainers for aiding his success, but refused to reveal the name of the man “who takes care of the rest”.

“I am not going to tell you his name or what he does,” Larrazabal said. “It is the best thing that could happen to my game to meet this guy, but if you tell your secrets someone else is going to do it.”

 

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power