Abu Dhabi Championship: Pablo Larrazabal clinched victory with a birdie at the final hole

Last Updated: 19/01/14 6:49pm

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Pablo Larrazabal: Third and most important victory on the European Tour

Pablo Larrazabal: Third and most important victory on the European Tour

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Pablo Larrazabal of Spain claimed victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship as Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were left to rue their misfortune.

Larrazabal bravely holed from four feet for a birdie at the final hole to hold off playing partner McIlroy, who had been penalised two shots after his third round for a minor rule infringement.

Mickelson was still to play the 18th but after a disastrous seventh at the 13th, when he picked up a penalty for a double hit when playing a shot right-handed, he needed an eagle at the par-five to force a play-off.

He found the putting surface with a hybrid club but his lengthy putt never threatened the hole, leaving Larrazabal to celebrate a third victory on the European Tour.

McIlroy began the day three shots behind overnight leader Craig Lee, having vowed to get the strokes back as soon as possible on Sunday, although a birdie on the second was cancelled out by a bogey on the fifth when a wild drive hit a cart path and bounded into trouble.

Birdies at the seventh and eighth took him to 11 under par and briefly into a share of the lead, but Mickelson had also birdied the second and recovered from a wayward drive on the eighth to make another.

At 12 under par, the Open champion led by one from McIlroy and Larrazabal, with Lee playing himself out of contention with bogeys at the fourth and fifth on the way to a 77.

Coetzee surge

McIlroy looked to have squandered a birdie chance on the par-five 10th with a poor pitch that only just crept over a greenside bunker, but holed from 20ft to join Mickelson and South African George Coetzee in the lead.

Coetzee had gone to the turn in 33 and then rolled in a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th to wipe out his six-shot deficit at the start of the day.

Final round leaderboard

(GB&Ire unless stated)
-14 P Larrazabal (Spa)
-13 P Mickelson (US)
-13 R McIlroy
-12 R Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
-12 G Coetzee (SA)
-10 J Luiten (Ned)

Click here for collated scores

Mickelson reclaimed the outright lead with a birdie on the 10th, but then imploded in spectacular fashion on the 13th.

After his drive finished underneath a bush, Mickelson declined to take a penalty drop and attempted to play the shot right-handed, but saw the ball hit a branch and rebound back onto his club.

That 'double hit' still left the ball in trouble and led to another right-handed escape shot, after which the 43-year-old found the green with his fifth shot and two-putted for a triple-bogey seven.

Back to 10 under par, Mickelson was now three shots off the lead held by Larrazabal, with clubhouse leader Coetzee and McIlroy a shot behind on 12 under.

In typical fashion Mickelson bounced straight back with a birdie on the 14th while Larrazabal narrowly missed a long birdie putt on the 16th to remain 13 under, but playing partner McIlroy (68) saved par from sand to remain just one shot behind.

Mickelson also birdied the 16th to get within a shot of Larrazabal, only for the Spaniard to hit a superb second shot on to the par-five 18th from almost 270 yards.

The eagle putt was left four feet short, but the 30-year-old held his nerve to make birdie and move to 14 under with a round of 67, leaving Mickelson needing to eagle the same hole to force a play-off.

It wasn't to be for the American, who nevertheless holed out for birdie and a share of second place after a 69, one ahead of Coetzee who was joined on -12 by Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

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