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Pablo Martin after defending his title at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Pablo Martin after defending his title at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

MALELANE, South Africa – Despite a disastrous triple bogey on the 71st hole, Pablo Martin closed with a 2-under 70 Dec. 12 to defend his title at the European Tour’s season-opening Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Spaniard took a triple-bogey 7 at the par-4 17th, but recovered to birdie the last for an 11-under 277 total at Leopard Creek Country Club. He was two strokes clear of Thorbjorn Olesen (66), Charl Schwartzel (70) and Anthony Michael (73), who took a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Martin became the first player to retain a European Tour title since Padraig Harrington won his second consecutive British Open in 2008.

“I played really well for nine holes, then I got myself into trouble,” Martin said. “It was a good start and it gave me a little bit of a cushion, and I needed it.”

Martin surged ahead with an eagle-birdie start and opened a five-shot lead around the turn before faltering down the stretch. Playing the par-5 18th with a one-shot lead over Michael, Martin found the green with his second shot and two-putted for birdie, while Michael found the water to end his chances.

“I was able to hit a couple of good shots coming in, especially the one on 18,” Martin said. “On 17, I made a big mess but I was really lucky that everything went well.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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