Larrazabal stumbles, then rallies to win in South Africa

South Africa's Brandon Grace lines up a shot during play in the European Tour in Malelane, South Africa, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. Players have been allowed to wear shorts for the first time during tournament play because temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius over the next few days.

MALELANE, South Africa (AP) — Pablo Larrazábal won the European Tour’s season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship after losing a three-shot overnight lead and then making three birdies on his last four holes for a 3-over 75 and a one-stroke victory Sunday.

The final birdie was on the par-5 18th to finish at 8-under 280, one shot ahead of Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm, who shot 69.

Larrazabal, who said he struggled with blisters on his feet, had six bogeys and a double bogey until his rousing finish to capture his first European Tour victory in four years.

“I woke up this morning and I didn’t think I was going to play,” Larrazábal said. “I couldn’t put my shoe on, I couldn’t walk to the buggy. I really struggled on the back nine. I have a big blister on my right toe and I said to myself, ‘If Tiger can win a U.S. Open with a broken leg…’ and I just fought hard.”

The 36-year-old Larrazábal’s victory at Leopard Creek Country Club came at the event where he started his professional career 12 years ago.

Charl Schwartzel (70) finished tied for third at 6 under on his return to tournament action for the first time in eight months because of a wrist injury. Branden Grace (73) and Wil Besseling (74) also tied for third.

Besseling led or held a share of the lead through much of the final round, but his approach on the 18th was too far and landed among rocks behind the green, leading to a bogey. That set up the victory for Larrazabal, who hit wedge to tap-in range for the closing birdie.


K.T. Kim closed with an 8-under 64 and rallied from three shots behind to win the Casio World Open on the Japan Golf Tour. Kim, who once reached as high as No. 20 in the world, won for the first time in three years. ... Anne Van Dam won the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open for the second straight year with a 2-under 70 and plenty of help from Nanna Koerstz Madesen, who hit into water on the final hole and made double bogey to finish one shot behind. Van Dam won for the fifth time on the Ladies European Tour. ... Josh Younger won his first PGA Tour of Australasia title with a birdie on the second playoff hole to beat Travis Smyth in the NSW Open. Younger made double bogey on the 17th hole for a 1-under 71, getting into the playoff when Smyth (71) finished bogey-par. ... Seon-woo Bae closed with a 4-under 67 for a four-shot victory in the Japan LPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup, the final event of the year on the Japan LPGA. ... Barry Lane closed with a 2-under 69 for a one-shot victory on the MCB Tour Championship-Madagascar, his second victory this year on Europe’s senior Staysure Tour. ... Korean LPGA members won seven singles matches for a 15-9 victory over LPGA members from Korea in the Orange Life Champions Trophy Inbee Park Invitational.

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