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Larrazabal edges McIlroy and Mickelson

(Photo: Getty Images)
Pablo Larrazábal showed once again his fondness for picking up prestigious titles on The European Tour when he held off a stellar cast to claim the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The 30 year old Spaniard "“ whose previous Tour triumphs have come in the Alstom Open de France and the BMW International Open in Germany "“ carded a bold final round 67 on the National Course for a 14 under par total of 274 and a one shot victory over Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

"I win when I can and I win when I have a chance to win," said the former Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year. "But it was great to do it when all my family and my team were here. They know who they are they all know how hard I've worked for this. I thank them for supporting me and continuing to push me hard."

Larrazábal started the final round three shots behind leader Craig Lee, but as the Scot faded, the Spaniard seized the initiative. Reaching the turn in 32, further birdies at the 11th and 13th saw him hit the front and when he two putted the final hole for his sixth birdie of the round, it set a target neither of his two illustrious pursuers could match.

Mickelson, the reigning Open Champion, battled hard and produced his usual brand of golfing fireworks as he strove to close the gap. But the 43 year old Californian's challenge was undone at the 13th where a double hit, while attempting to extricate himself right handed from a bush, saw him run up a triple bogey seven.

"It never crossed my mind that I would double hit it," said the American, who gamely fought to make up the lost ground with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th holes. "But I enjoy challenging myself to hit some shots. Sometimes they come off, and sometimes they don't. This week I had a little bit of both."

Like Mickelson, joint runner-up McIlroy tried everything to make up ground on Larrazábal, but seven straight pars from the 11th to the 17th saw him unable to do so; like Mickelson, his birdie four at the last leaving his total one shot shy of the mark.

It did, of course, leave the Northern Irishman rueing the rules infringement he incurred during Saturday's third round, a mistake which cost him a two shot penalty and, ultimately, the title.

"I'm standing here and I feel I should be 15 under par for the tournament and the winner, not 13 under par and the runner-up," he said. "But that's the way it goes I suppose. I played the least shots of anyone here this week so I suppose I can count that as a moral victory.

"But I'm very happy with the week as a whole. I came in here telling everyone I was happy with my game and I think I've proved that by doing a lot of good work. So it's fair to say I'm really excited about the rest of the season now."

Larrazábal's fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello (68) "“ who held the lead at one stage during the front nine, slipped back to share fourth with South African George Coetzee (66) on 12 under par 276, while Dutchman Joost Luiten completed the top six with a 68 for ten under par 278.

Wade Ormsby was the only Australian to make the cut and finished 28th.

The European Tour heads to Qatar for this coming week's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Leading final round scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi GC (par 72)

274 P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 70 68 67 (€328,779)

275 R McIlroy (Nir) 70 67 70 68, P Mickelson (USA) 73 70 63 69, (€171,338 each)

276 G Coetzee (RSA) 68 70 72 66, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 68 73 68, (€91,138 each)

278 J Luiten (Ned) 68 70 72 68, (€69,004)

279 J Carlsson (Swe) 73 70 71 65,

280 S Gallacher (Sco) 70 73 68 69, R Karlsson (Swe) 73 67 72 68,

281 P Hanson (Swe) 70 70 69 72, M Jiménez (Esp) 73 68 67 73, T Björn (Den) 70 67 72 72, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 70 68 73, M Hoey (Nir) 69 71 68 73, T Hatton (Eng) 69 71 70 71, D Fichardt (RSA) 70 70 75 66, G Bhullar (Ind) 72 68 66 75, C Lee (Sco) 68 67 69 77,

282 T Aiken (RSA) 70 73 69 70, H Otto (RSA) 70 71 69 72, P McGinley (Irl) 68 72 72 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 73 70 69 70, B Stone (RSA) 71 71 73 67, T Fleetwood (Eng) 73 65 72 72, D Willett (Eng) 73 63 76 70, S Garcia (Esp) 76 68 70 68, M Baldwin (Eng) 67 72 69 74,

283 W Ormsby (Aus) 69 73 71 70, E Molinari (Ita) 70 71 71 71, J Lima (Por) 68 75 67 73,

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