Wednesday 22 November 2017

Larrazabal claims early wedding gift

Pablo Larrazabal of Spain celebrates with his girlfriend Gala Ortin after winning the BMW International Open
Pablo Larrazabal of Spain celebrates with his girlfriend Gala Ortin after winning the BMW International Open

By Nigel Whittaker

Pablo Larrazabal attributed his second BMW International Open title to a flying start as he carded a final-day 66 to see off the challenge of Henrik Stenson in Munich.

The Spaniard reached the turn in a five-under-par 31 and added a crucial sixth birdie on the 16th to finish on 17-under, one shot ahead of the Swede.

Ireland's Michael Hoey was right in the mix for much of the final round and was just a shot off the lead after 12 holes of yesterday's final round before bogeys on 13 and 14 brought his challenge to a shuddering halt.

He closed with a 70 for a 13- under-par total to finish in a tie for seventh which netted him prize-money of €55,000.

Stenson fired himself right into it with an eagle on the 11th as well as five birdies in a round of 65, but ultimately had to settle for second place as Larrazabal's nerve held over the closing holes.


"I knew that I was in a good position, two groups ahead, and I knew that I had to start very fast," said the 32-year-old who was born in Barcelona. "I had to start with a few birdies in the first holes and I started very well.

"I think I was five-under for the front nine and hitting the ball great, as well as I have hit it all year, and my putting was awesome. I made a lot of great putts.

"Coming in, it's tough coming in. You have a lot of holes with a lot of trouble, so I knew I needed to put myself in a good position to make birdies. I made birdie on 16, a great shot.

"I had memories from the past - I lost the tournament over there back in 2010, going 19-under par with three to play, and I lost it over there, so I had that in my mind: 'Put it on the green and try to make the putt'. If not, four is a great score in 16."

Stenson's birdie at 18 briefly left him in a tie for the lead, but a three for Larrazabal on the 16th proved decisive.

Asked if he was aware on the course how close the Swede had been to him, he replied: "I knew, I knew exactly.

"Henrik is not German but he has a lot of German friends, and we could hear the roar. That kind of roar is for (Martin) Kaymer or for one of the best in the world, and I knew that Henrik was coming fast. But he birdied the last and I birdied 16."

It was Larrazabal's second win in Munich and fourth on the European tour, and it came two months before he is to marry girlfriend Gala Ortin.

He said: "In two months I will be a married man, so this is awesome. Being with her again around Munich and around this beautiful golf course - this is a place that has given us a lot of great memories and being married to her is a dream come true."

Stenson's late flourish took him one shot clear of England's Chris Paisley, whose 15-under-par four-round total of 273 earned him third place in his own right, although he might have claimed a share of second with a long putt on the 18th which came up just short.

South African Retief Goosen tied for fourth with Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and another Spaniard, Carlos del Moral, a further stroke back, with Hoey in joint-seventh with Swede Peter Hanson on 13-under.

Darren Clarke finished in a tie for 20th after a closing 69, while Shane Lowry showed the effects of a tiring fortnight, carding a 73 to finish on seven-under in joint 29th.

Damien McGrane, Kevin Phelan and Peter Lawrie finished down the field, while Phelan in particular will be disappointed having posted rounds of 76 and 75 over the weekend.

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