• Larrazabal’s love affair with No 12

    Pablo Larrazabal of Spain in action
    Clear at the top

    Should Pablo Larrazabal win the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Sunday, even with just a stroke or two, then the peculiar success he’s had at the 12th hole at Leopard Creek this week should get the credit, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.

    The Spaniard will start three ahead of Wil Besseling and four ahead of Saturday’s playing partner, Branden Grace.

    Roll back to Friday afternoon, in the heart of the boiling Malelane heat and when it looked as if he might be losing his way a bit, he sank a monster birdie putt on the par-three 12th hole, which was estimated to be all of 70 feet.

    Of course it is hard to believe that Larrazabal exactly planned for that to happen, but the end result of that putt firmly assured his place at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend.

    They say lightning never strikes twice in the same spot, especially not in this humid part of South Africa where a thunderstorm would actually bring massive relief from the heatwave experienced the past couple of days.

    But, for Larrazabal, the 12th produced a very similar strike of luck on Saturday, when he chipped in for birdie from almost the exact same angle as the previous day, which put a great deal of daylight between himself and the second-placed Grace.

    Like Friday’s putt, the chip-in was a shot where the ball just kept on rolling and rolling towards the hole, sweeping over a massive piece of green and ending in a somewhat surprised but yet truly relieved Larrazabal celebration, who on both occasions would’ve been more than satisfied with saving par.

    Both tee-shots he played drew to the right of the green but the confidence he’s been playing with this week was firmly captured while he was walking to the cup to pick his ball out.

    It very much emphasised that it is going to take something very special from the other contenders to beat him on Sunday given how consistent and maybe a tad bit lucky he’s been throughout the championship.

    Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

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