Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal held off Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club by a single shot.
Larrazabal fired a closing round of 67 to end the week one clear of McIlroy and Mickelson and claim his third European Tour title, his first since 2011.
“It feels great,” said Larrazabal. “Only my team and I know how much we’ve worked through the last three years.”
The Spaniard began the final round three shots behind Craig Lee. But the Scot stumbled early in his round with bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes, throwing the tournament wide open. Lee eventually closed with a disappointing 77 to end the week in a tie for 10th place.
Larrazabal was one of a number of players in contention through the front nine, before 2013 Open champion Phil Mickelson took to the front with three birdies in his first 10 holes.
But Mickelson came unstuck at the 13th when he attempted to play back-handed from under a bush. He caught the ball twice with that stroke then required a penalty drop. In the end he walked off the hole with a triple-bogey seven.
Larrazabal took advantage of Mickelson’s slip and closed with a birdie four to set a clubhouse total of 14-under-par. The American fought back valiantly and gave himself a chance to tie Larrazabal with an eagle at the 72nd hole. He found the par-5 green in two but was unable to convert the eagle putt and finished one shot back.
Rory McIlroy also came up just shy and was left to consider what might have been, after a string of missed birdie efforts.
“It’s frustrating as I played well all week,” he said. “It’s been a very positive week though and I’ll give it another run in Dubai.”
The European Tour stays in the Middle East for the next two weeks with the Qatar Masters then the Dubai Desert Classic.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Jan 16-19, purse €1,971,000, par 72
1 Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 69 70 68 67 274 €328,779
T2 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 70 67 70 68 275 €171,338
T2 Phil Mickelson (USA) 73 70 63 69 275 €171,338
T4 Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 68 73 68 276 €91,138
T4 George Coetzee (RSA) 68 70 72 66 276 €91,138
6 Joost Luiten (Ned) 68 70 72 68 278 €69,044
7 Johan Carlsson (Swe) 73 70 71 65 279 €59,180
T8 Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 70 73 68 69 280 €46,752
T8 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 73 67 72 68 280 €46,752
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
PGA Tour – Patrick Reed wins Humana Challenge