Special Features

Pablo Larrazabal wins the first event of the 2020 European Tour season to take the early lead in the Race to Dubai

Pablo Larrazabal returned to the winner’s circle in dramatic fashion at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek yesterday to take the lead in the 2020 Race to Dubai. The Spaniard ended a four-and-a-half year wait for a win on the European Tour with a gutsy one-stroke victory ahead of Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm with South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace plus The Netherlands’ Wil Besseling in a share of third place. Larrazábal began the final day with a three-shot lead but endured a torrid time on the opening nine holes after struggling with blisters on his feet. He regrouped and hit some clutch shots on the par-5s on the back nine to steady the ship for a 75 and an eight under par total which was enough for victory and a haul of 460 Race to Dubai points.

“To be a winner again means so much - I’ve been working so hard, putting in a lot of hours and this is what it’s for,” said the 36-year-old. “After missing the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, I came here early and practised. I’ve been here ten days now and I’ve fought hard with a lot of heart.

“It’s been a long road the last few years and this is where I want to be. I woke up this morning and I didn’t think I was going to play. 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 US Open with a broken leg…’ and I just fought hard.”

Sjöholm started the week as the second reserve and made the most of his opportunity after getting into the field, finishing second to collect 305 points while the trio in third place all came away with 141.7 points each.

The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8 million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 19-22, 2020, where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest first prize in world tournament golf.

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