Larrazabal stumbles, then rallies to win in South Africa

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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. (AP Photo)
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. (AP Photo)

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.

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