Larrazabal rallies for win in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Pablo Larrazabal carded a 5-under 67 on Sunday to rally for a 1-stroke victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Larrazabal earned his third career European Tour victory at 14-under-par 274.
"It feels great," said Larrazabal, whose last win came at the 2011 BMW International Open. "Only me and my team know how much we've worked during the last three years."
Rory McIlroy, who was assessed a 2-stroke penalty for an illegal drop on the second hole on Saturday, shot a 4-under 68 during his final round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to finish in a share of second place with Phil Mickelson (69) at 13- under.
"It's frustrating. I've played well the whole week," McIlroy said about his finish. "It's a very positive start to the season so I'm not going to let one little negative ruin that."
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (68) and George Coetzee (66) tied for fourth at 12-under, while Joost Luiten (68) took sixth at minus-10.
Third-round leader Craig Lee struggled with a 5-over 77 on Sunday to tumble into a share of 10th place at 7-under 281.
Lee entered the final round with a 2-stroke lead, but bogeyed the fourth to drop to 11-under and into a tie for first with Cabrera-Bello, Mickelson and Larrazabal.
Cabrera-Bello had birdied the second, fifth and sixth to reach minus-11, while Mickelson birdied the second and Larrazabal birdied the second and fourth to earn their share of first.
Larrazabal was the first to drop out of the top spot with a bogey at the fifth. Lee was next when he hit his third shot at the par-4 fifth past the green en route to a bogey.
Cabrera-Bello then bogeyed the ninth to drop to 10-under and hand first place to Mickelson.
Shortly after, however, McIlroy followed a birdie at the seventh by chipping to about a foot at the eighth for another birdie to meet Mickelson atop the leaderboard.
Larrazabal birdied the eighth to make it a three-way tie for the lead before Mickelson recovered from an errant drive at the eighth for a birdie to claim the outright lead at 12-under.
Coetzee birdied three straight from the 11th and McIlroy rolled in a 20- foot putt from the fringe for a birdie at the 10th to meet Mickelson in first place, but Mickelson responded with a gain at the 10th to regain sole possession of first at minus-13.
After Larrazabal capped two birdies in a three-hole stretch from the 11th by sticking his approach at the 13th to a foot of the hole and kicking in that short birdie effort to grab a share of the lead at 13-under, Mickelson fell well off the pace with a disastrous 13th.
The American's troubles on the hole started with a drive into a bush to the left of the fairway, where his next shot attempt struck the ball twice. He later 2-putted from the edge of the green for a triple-bogey 7, dropping him down to 10-under.
Larrazabal, meanwhile, followed his birdie at the 13th with four straight pars before 2-putting for birdie at the 18th to finish at 14-under and a stroke ahead of McIlroy, who also birdied the final hole to finish a shot behind.
"The birdie at 13 gave me the confidence to keep it going and I hit great shots coming in. The five wood at 18 is maybe the best shot of my golfing career," Larrazabal said.
Mickelson bounced back from his gaffe at the 13th with birdies at the 14th and 15th to pull back to 12-under, but he could not convert his eagle effort from about 40 feet at the last to end alongside McIlroy at 13-under.
NOTES: Larrazabal had played in 77 tournaments since his last win ... Larrazabal entered the final round three strokes off the overnight lead, matching Paul Casey in 2007 as the largest final round winning comeback in the history of the tournament ... Larrazabal is expected to move from 103rd to 55th in the Official World Golf Ranking with the victory.
01/19 06:54:17 ET