The INFINITUM Lakes course was the setting for a stunning Spanish one-two at the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain as Pablo Larrazábal fired a superb final-round 62 to hold off the challenge of Adrian Otaegui.
Larrazábal’s one-shot victory at INFINITUM was his second win in his last four tournaments and was also his first on home soil to move him alongside fellow Spanish legends Jon Rahm, Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño with seven wins on the DP World Tour.
The 38-year-old recorded rounds of 67-68-68 heading into the final 18 holes at INFINITUM and sat three strokes back from fellow Spaniard Otaegui – who had shared the 54-hole lead with Aaron Cockerill of Canada and South African Hennie du Plessis.
Barcelona-born Larrazábal broke into contention on Sunday with five successive birdies from the ninth hole before tapping in for another at the par-5 18th to finish on 15-under par. Otaegui had an opportunity to force a play-off but could not convert his eagle putt; the resulting birdie saw him finish alone in second place on 14-under ahead of Cockerill and Du Plessis, who were a further shot back.
“What a day,” Larrazábal said. “I knew that I had a low one in my bag and that’s what I did. I didn’t make any putts on the first three days, but I told my girlfriend she had to choose my clothing for the [winning] pictures.
“I am glad I got the seventh title at home. I live an hour and 15 minutes up the road and it is very special to win here in Spain, in front of a few friends of mine, and obviously in front of my girlfriend and my brother.”
The thrilling finish on Sunday marked a triumphant week for an event that had delivered moments of high drama, with the INFINITUM Lakes course – and its water-peppered holes – a fitting layout to host the DP World Tour’s first visit to Spain in 2022.
The INFINITUM greenkeeping staff worked tirelessly to maintain the Lakes course in prime condition for the tournament, with a number of local volunteers ensuring the resort’s first staging of a DP World Tour event remained a success.
The par-70 layout – which normally plays as a par 71 – features the threat of water on 14 of its 18 holes, with huge, sprawling greens and cavernous bunkers adding to the test. And although water was the course’s chief defence, players were given the opportunity to attack with a number of clever, short par fours and the layout’s two par fives coming late in the round at the 16th and 18th.
INFINITUM chief business officer, Agustín García Pascual, said: “It was a fitting end to what was a great week and we were honoured to welcome the DP World Tour. Pablo Larrazábal’s attacking play ensured the tournament enjoyed a thrilling finish and the Lakes course is the perfect platform for risk-reward golf and the drama of top-level tournament play.
“Our greenkeeping staff worked so hard to present the course in immaculate condition every day and as a result, we had the course in incredible form. To have the winner and runner-up from Spain was a dream ending to the event but whoever claimed the victory, the tournament would have been a great success with an international field that was fitting of its status.”
To add to the success of the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain – which carried a $2million prize fund (€1.8million) – it was also confirmed that INFINITUM would host this year’s Qualifying School Final Stage from November 11-16 after signing a three-year deal with the DP World Tour.
The six-day Qualifying School finale will be played across two championship layouts at INFINITUM, with 156 hopefuls competing in a bid to fulfil their DP World Tour dreams. The Hills course delivers an all-together different test to the Lakes with towering pine trees congesting its fairways and elevated tees serving up wonderful views out to the Mediterranean Sea.
INFINITUM had previously staged the qualifying showpiece from 2017 to 2019 before the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and to celebrate its return to the Costa Dorada venue, former winners were invited to share memories of their success and the life-changing effects of winning their playing rights for the DP World Tour.
“It was a life-changing experience,” said Denmark’s Benjamin Poke, who was the last winner of Qualifying School’s Final Stage at INFINITUM in 2019. “You are playing for your card and your future. Qualifying School can be daunting, but you must look at it as a fantastic opportunity.
“I have great memories of that week at INFINITUM. Qualifying School changed my life. I will never forget that.”
On signing the Qualifying School partnership with the DP World Tour, Agustín García Pascual added: “This affirms our commitment to Qualifying School and will allow us to showcase the developments we have made at INFINITUM as we look to start a new chapter and build on the success of hosting the event from 2017 to 2019.”