Pablo Larrazabal closes his magical month

by   |  VIEW 1324

Pablo Larrazabal closes his magical month
Pablo Larrazabal closes his magical month

Pablo Larrazábal put the finishing touch to a dream month this Sunday. In the last 30 days, the Catalan golfer took the victory in South Korea, turned 40, made the PGA Championship cutoff and, to top it all off, won the KLM Open today with -13 after a final round of three under par.

There are now nine victories for Pablo on the DP World Tour, the old European Tour, a figure reached only by six other Spaniards: Severiano Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, Sergio García, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Jon Rahm and Manuel Piñero.

Almost nothing belonging to this club.

Pablo Larrazábal, statements

At the age of 40, Larrazábal is going through a second youth. Between 2015 and 2022, the Barcelona player was barely able to lift a single trophy.

But everything changed since March of last year. There are already four titles in just 15 months for the Spaniard, one of the fittest golfers on the circuit. It is the 11th time that a Hispanic has lifted the Dutch Open, the eighth different one to do so (before Ángel Miguel, Ramón Sota won twice, Seve another three, Olazábal, Jiménez, Sergio and Gonzalo Fernández Castaño) and the first at Bernardus Golf in Cromvoirt, venue of this event for the last three years.

The victory also catapulted Larrazábal to eighth place in the Race to Dubai, the ranking of the best of the year. And that the day of Sunday began with a scare for the Barcelonan, who faced the final lap as the solo leader.

On hole 2, Larrazábal sent his ball into the water twice and signed a double bogey that made him disappear from the noble positions, where a good bunch of players accumulated. The table was a constant dance, with some going up and others going down every minute.

It was also difficult for the other Spaniard in the ointment to start the machinery, Adrián Otaegui, who started second and only collected a bogey in his first half of the lap. A little earlier Larrazábal woke up, who achieved birdies at 6 and 7 after two kilometer putts, both of great merit.

There were times when there was a five-way tie for first place, even. The South African Deon Germishuys, the Pole Adrian Meronk, the Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat or the Dane Rasmus Hojgaard were in charge of making the victory very expensive and putting the Spanish in trouble.

Larrazábal showed maturity and patience: he avoided the bogeys in his second half of the course, and raised a final attack that was lethal. The birdie at 15 made him stand alone as the leader with -11, although at that time Germishuys left a very dangerous -10 at home.

Far from being cautious, the Barcelonan did not save anything in the last holes. Birdie at 17 after a brutal tee shot and, in case there was any doubt, birdie at 18 with a new tube. Pablo celebrated that last putt with euphoria and anger.

He won big, as the best champions do. Final round of 69 shots, three under par, for a total of -13. Neither the initial double bogey nor the pressure from his competitors destabilized a Larrazábal who was followed in the classification by Otaegui, who birdied 18 to be second alone with -11 (last round of 70 shots).

"What a day. It has been a battle with myself, I have not played well. I started with a double bogey, but I've controlled myself, I've had a couple of good putts and I've done my best to stay. I knew that to win you had to birdie at the end, you have to run fast at the end, not at the beginning.

I am very proud of myself and my team, we had a hard time in times of COVID, but here we are with four victories in the last 15 months. I hope I do 15% of what Miguel Ángel did in his 40, this is my first tournament with 40.

The goal is to continue being happy, ”summed up an emotional Larrazábal minutes after his victory in the Netherlands. The magical month of the Spaniard, in which he also made his first cut in a major since 2012, has multiple awards for him: he will be very close to entering the top-50 in the world ranking (the best position of his career is 53rd), and is going to sneak into the top-10 of European points and the top-20 of world goals in qualifying for this year's Ryder Cup in Rome.

Pablo has always expressed that in golf he has two dreams to fulfill: representing Europe in a Ryder and playing the Augusta Masters. And, seen what has been seen, the first of them can be fulfilled in 2023. If he is able to stretch out this magical month (he is classified for the British Open), it will surely be so.