Pablo Larrazábal


Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal seized the Falcon Trophy from under the noses of Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy today, as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship delivered a nail-biting final day of world class golf, with one of its closest-ever finishes.

The 30 year old claimed his third European Tour title with a clinical round 67, to finish on 14 under par and win by a stroke from the two Major Champions.

It was a hard-earned victory, on a day in which the lead changed hands many times and any one of a dozen players could have taken the title.

As the clock struck noon, the crowds could see they were in for the most nail-biting afternoon in the history of the Championship. McIlroy had recovered from a bogey on the 5th and the 8th bringing him into the lead, where he joined Mickelson and Larrazábal. Lee was moving in the other direction, with bogeys on the 3rd and 4th dropping him back a shot behind the leaders but at this point, it was clear this could be anyone's trophy.

As the leaders reached the turn, Mickelson held the sole lead at 12 under par but almost immediately he was caught, this time by McIlroy and South African George Coetzee, who was by now at six under par for the day.

Coetzee couldn’t add to his birdie count over his last few holes and was to finish tied for fourth with Cabrera-Bello, while overnight leader Lee faded further on the back nine to finish at seven under par.

All eyes were now on the last two groups. Disaster struck Mickelson on 13 with a triple bogey seven thanks to a double-hit on his ball trying to come out of the rough. Three birdies over the next five holes were to keep him in contention till his last stroke but the damage had been done.

On a day when the back nine was going to make all the difference, it was Larrazábal’s birdies on 11, 13 and 18 which were to give the final advantage.