Larrazabal claims second tour title

By: abadam


Pablo Larrazabal beat fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia at the fifth play-off hole to capture his second European Tour title in Munich.

The 28-year-old’s victory in the BMW International Open came only 20 days after he lost at the sixth hole of sudden death in an Open Championship qualifier at Sunningdale.

Now Larrazabal will be going to Sandwich after all – and so will Garcia, whose runner-up finish earned him the other spot up for grabs off a “current form” mini money list.

After two years in which he has slumped from second in the world to outside the top 80, Garcia began his revival by coming seventh in the US Open a week ago.

But, after making a birdie on the 72nd to force extra holes, he lost when he three-putted the same green an hour later.

It would have been his first success since November 2008, but Larrazabal has to go back five months longer for his previous win at the French Open.

There was also sadness attached to this one, however.

“Last week we lost my grandad, the captain of the family, and this is for him,” he said.

“Beating one of my heroes when I was growing up is just a dream – very emotional.”

Earlier, Garcia had been two ahead after a magical run of three successive birdies from the sixth and eagle putts of 25 and 40 feet at the ninth and 11th.

Then came four bogeys in five holes, but finding the green in two at the 568-yard last and two-putting enabled him to catch Larrazabal on the 16 under par total of 272, both finishing with rounds of 68.

They first played the 18th twice more – and birdied it both times – and then the 12th and 17th, two par threes, could not separate them.

Larrazabal was much the further from the cup in two on their return to the 18th, but he was the one to get down in two for the £290,673 first prize.

Garcia earned £193,782, while joint third two strokes behind were Scotland’s Scott Jamieson after a best-of-the-day 64, England’s overnight leader Mark Foster, South Africans Retief Goosen and George Coetzee and Dutchman Joost Luiten.

Garcia has not missed a major since the 1999 Open at Carnoustie – the one in which he shot 89-83 to finish in last place and cried in his mother’s arms.

His run looked set to end only a few weeks ago, but he survived a seven-man play-off for four places in the US Open and then showed that he is a force to be reckoned with again.

The 31-year-old even took time out from golf last year to try to rediscover his passion – and being invited to join Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains at the Ryder Cup helped him to do it.

His second place takes him just outside the world’s top 50, while Larrazabal will be back in the top 100 after starting the week 180th.

England’s Simon Dyson and Swede Johan Edfors were in position to take the Open places before the German event, but Dyson missed the cut and Edfors did not play.

Home favourite Martin Kaymer, meanwhile, came only 18th and so loses his world number three spot to US Open champion Rory McIlroy.

With Luke Donald and Lee Westwood first and second it is the first time United Kingdom players have occupied the leading three positions since the rankings began in 1986.

Jamieson achieved his round playing with Kaymer and, after chipping in for eagle at the 11th and closing with three birdies, he said: “I didn’t imagine that at the start of the day – yesterday [Saturday] I didn’t play well at all.”

Garcia said: “Making The Open was definitely one of the goals. I wanted to win if I could, but unfortunately Pablo was just a little bit better today [Sunday].

“I think the play-off was awesome – we hit good shot after good shot. I so wanted to make that putt and I don’t know how it didn’t go in.

“Overall I am pretty satisfied. Sure we can learn some good things from this and move forward.

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