Larrazabal hopes mini-tour win pays off in Seville
By BERNIE McGUIRE
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) After winning last week for the first time on home soil, Spanish golfer Pablo Larrazabal hopes it will lead to success in this week's Spanish Open.
Larrazabal chose not to contest the European Tour stop in South Korea and instead stayed home for an Alps Tour event in Barcelona.
The two-time European Tour winner played the first two rounds of the three-round event with amateur Javier Ballesteros, the 21-year-old son of the late Seve Ballesteros. And with longtime girlfriend Galar Ortin as caddie, and the company of family and friends, Larrazabal could not have been happier winning by four strokes.
"It is always good to win no matter where you play and even though it was my first-ever victory here in Spain the feeling of winning is always the same," he said.
"There was that same pressure I've had many times before coming down the last hole, and it was a little bit like the way I felt in winning the French Open (in 2008) and last year's BMW International Open.
"It was the first time ever as a professional or an amateur I have won in Spain. I had four second-place finishes before on the Spanish Tour and I was third in 2003 on the Alps Tour. Having Galar on the bag and with all my family and friends in Barcelona made it that extra special."
A year ago, Larrazabal carried the weight of Spanish golf on his shoulders in striving to capture the Spanish Open in Barcelona.
Ballesteros died early on the second day of the tournament, and Larrazabal was the leading Spaniard heading into the last day two strokes off the lead, seeking to deliver for Spain an emotional victory.
However, a final-round 71 left Larrazabal in a share of third and three strokes from South African Thomas Aiken.
"Thomas and I had a good fight on that Sunday and all during the week," Larrazabal said. "There was double emotion for me as it was being held on my home course and we were all sad. I found it very difficult to concentrate as everyone was thinking of Seve and many were hoping I would win.
"But then the Spanish Open is always a special week for all the Spanish players and after winning last week in Barcelona, it would be wonderful now if I could win here in Seville."
Larrazabal expects to see Javier Ballesteros, who tied for 14th in Barcelona, one day competing on the European Tour.
"Javier is a great young guy and while he doesn't have the magic of Seve, he has something there that is quite special," Larrazabal said. "He shot 65 the first day to be just one behind me.
"But let's just wait and see how he goes as he still is studying law at university. I think the day will come when we will see Javier out here, but as I said to him, there is no rush."
Updated May 1, 2012