Monday 2 December 2019 5:59 pm

Pablo Larrazabal's comeback win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship was a triumph for doggedness and passion

It all looked to have gone wrong for Pablo Larrazabal during the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Sunday. 

The Spaniard had led from the end of the second round in South Africa, but struggling with blisters, he shot a horrible first nine which looked to have ruled him out of a first win on the European Tour for four and a half years.

Larrazabal began the final round with a three-shot lead at Leopard Creek, but five bogeys and a double bogey saw him shoot a six-over par 41 on the opening nine holes to trail leader Wil Besseling by two strokes. 

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I suffered with a blister at the 1993 Ryder Cup, so I know just how unsettling they can be. I noticed a little blister on my little toe on the Wednesday and just thought it was a small, annoying thing. 

I played in the foursomes on Friday alongside Mark James at The Belfry, but it was horrific. I ended up going to the hospital where they took the toenail off and I had to withdraw from the event. 

Feet are so important for balance in golf and blisters can hinder the transferring of weight in your swing. In the heat of the South African summer, it must have been difficult for Larrazabal, so they way he came through to take victory was even more special.

Spanish passion

Larrazabal is a great character and it was his doggedness which pulled him through. The 36-year-old has a workmanlike swing, but it really works for him and the way he turned things around was so impressive.

Once the adrenaline is flowing the pain disappears from your mind. He was visibly pumped in the closing stages, so the lack of limping is completely understandable.

Pablo Larrazabal
Larrazabal has a workmanlike technique off the tee

Three birdies in the final four holes produced a magnificent comeback and saw him shoot 75, end eight under-par and finish one shot ahead of Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm. 

Larrazabal’s long putt for a birdie on the 16th was a stand-out moment and was followed by typical Spanish passion, with him beating his chest. 

Clutch play

However, it was on the final hole where the real clutch play came in. Much like compatriot Jon Rahm at the DP World Tour Championship last weekend, Larrazabal needed a birdie to win. It is a situation you dream of as a child: standing on the last tee and knowing what you need to do.

While his playing partner Besseling was made to regret going for the green, with his ball nestling in amongst rocks and leading to a bogey, Larrazabal decided to lay up after his shot off the tee and he nailed it. 

The Spaniard chipped perfectly onto the green and sunk the resulting putt to birdie the par-five and seal a memorable comeback win – his fifth on the European Tour.

Dry conditions in South Africa make the grass pretty unforgiving and the 18th, which has a water feature, is very severe at Leopard Creek. Players have to earn their birdies and I think that helps to create such a dramatic and gripping finish.