ISPS Handa Championship

Tour pro waiting to see if he'd won while sitting in a bean-bag chair is the height of chill golf


Pablo Larrazabal celebrates a birdie at the 16th hole during the final round of the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain.

Andrew Redington

Pablo Larrazabal had played 27 holes of golf on Sunday and figured there might be a few more in his future. Even so, the 38-year-old deserved a moment to revel in what he’d already accomplished at Infinitum’s Lake Course in his native Spain.

During the morning, Larrazabal wrapped up the weather-delayed third round of the DP World Tour’s ISPS Handa Championship, going one over on his back nine for a two-under 68. It left him three shots off the lead in a tie for sixth entering the final round. He then proceeded to re-set, shoot a tournament-best 62 in the final round to get to 15 under-265 for the tournament.

Fueling Larrazabal during his final round was a five hole stretch from Nos. 9-13 in which he made all birdies. “The golf I played on those five holes was probably the best golf in a long, long time,” he said afterward. After bogeying the 15th hole, his lone blemish in the final round, birdies on the 16th and 18th gave him a two-shot edge.

Still, he had to wait to see if any of the contenders in the final threesome—Adrian Otaegui, Hennie Du Plessis and Aaron Cockerill—played the finishing three holes. But at least he found a comfortable place to do it.

Talk about the height of chill.

But only fellow Spaniard Otaegui made a birdie, and just one, giving Larrazabal his second DP World Tour victory in two months, the seventh of his career but his first on home soil.

"I couldn't make any putts the first three days, but I told my girlfriend last night that she had to choose the clothing for the [winning] pictures,” Larrazabal said. “I knew that I had a low one in my bag and that's what I did. Today, I holed putts and that was key. I mean, to shoot 62 in windy conditions with the flags out there, it was good.”

Larrazabal lives 75 minutes from the course, which meant he had a serious rooting section in attendance, including his brother.

The past two months have become a bit of a career resurgence for Larrazabal, who won the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2019 but prior to that had been winless since 2015.

“It's been tough, the last three years, the last maybe five, six years,” said Larrazabal, who moved up to seventh in the DP World Tour Race to Dubai standings while earning €313,467.42. “I know I had a win three years ago, but when your golf is not there and then injuries, and then these 20-year-old kids are coming in and they're flying the ball 50, 60 yards over yours and you're not putting well, you're not chipping well. There are a lot of things coming into my mind.

“I thought a lot about not playing any more. And sometimes if you believe and you keep working hard, life gives you back and it's been a long road. For the trust and for the work I did, and for the patience, I think I really deserve it.”