Comment: Pope Francis prioritises the poor, channels Marx in new ‘manifesto’

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By Andrew Self, La Trobe University

Pope Francis has openly attacked capitalism in his recently released Apostolic exhortation, which for all intents and purposes is the Pope’s “manifesto”.


While Francis has called for the radical decentralisation of the Vatican, and decided that gay people are not agents of Satan, it is his outcry against savage capitalism that creates the biggest interest. Much of it could have come from the hand of Karl Marx himself, minus the critique of ideology.

Since his election to the Catholic Church’s highest position in March, Francis has set an example for a more modest lifestyle, living in the Vatican guesthouse and suspending a bishop who spent millions on his luxurious residence. He also chose to be called Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived a life of poverty. So, is the hierarchy of the Catholic Church finally living up to the teachings of Jesus?

Calling for a more equal society, chapter two of Francis’ exhortation attacks the nature of modern capitalism, stating in no uncertain terms that:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.

It is only one section of the 84-page document, but it sets out the challenges of today’s world which includes headings such as “No to an economy of exclusion”, “No to the new idolatry of money”, “No to a financial system which rules rather than serves” and “No to the inequality which spawns violence”.

Francis has clearly been shifting the direction of the Catholic Church from the previous conservative slant of Pope Benedict. Not since the papacy of Paul VI in the 1960s has a pope openly declared the need to rebel against unjust capitalism.

Under Francis, European Church attendance is ever so slowly on the rise for the first time in decades. Two-thirds of Catholics seem to view Francis’ overall focus on human harmony as a positive thing.

Francis is a Jesuit and comes from Latin America, which was the home of the radical “Liberation Theology” movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which was feared by the conservative members of the Catholic Church. This tradition is a reading of the scripture that looks at sin in social problems, not individual ones.

Those adhering to this form of theology fight for an action against oppression, and as God identifies with the oppressed, this is where action by the church should be taken. Naturally, many deride this strain of Christian thought as “Marxist”.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, although Francis had opposed liberation theology in Argentina, this seems to have to do more with keeping Jesuits from becoming politically active or working directly in community groups – which would be a departure from the more traditional role of the order – than it does with rejecting an interpretation of Catholicism that places an emphasis on the poor.

It is a welcome change as capitalism stumbles from crisis to crisis. And with global inequality on the rise, it is significant that not only popular movements worldwide are realising and rebelling against this, but that the head of one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful institutions is also doing so.

Francis writes that:

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.

He openly attacks the defenders of the free market, saying:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

And Francis goes on with a statement which would not be out of place in a Communist pamphlet:

This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system.


 Wikimedia Commons

 The theories of Karl Marx are clearly present in Pope Francis’ recent exhortation.

Just like Marx wrote over 100 years ago, Francis understands capitalism’s manner of turning everything into a commodity, even humans.

Naturally, Francis has attracted the ire of conservatives, who see the Catholic Church’s role in line with traditionalism, and as an institution to hold off moral relativism and the growing secularisation of Western society.

In an Australian context, Francis’ manifesto could easily be aimed at Jesuit-educated Tony Abbott and conservative cardinal George Pell, particularly when he writes that:

…some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

It is of course true that the Catholic Church has huge, undisclosed wealth that is closely tied with the global usury system of unethical loans that Jesus condemned.

But it has only been eight months since Francis stepped into his role, and in this short time he has possibly done more for updating Catholic theology than any pope has done in the 20th century. He is not the first pope to attack the capitalist system and may be closer to Hungarian economic philosopher Karl Polanyi than Karl Marx.

Nevertheless, Francis’ arguments are more specific, opening naming “trickle-down economics” while practicing what he preaches and living a relatively humble lifestyle.

Francis is saying what many have said before, and will continue to say – that inequality is worsening, with the blame laid firmly at the feet of capitalism. But certainly, it holds more weight coming from such an influential man than it would coming from Russell Brand.

Andrew Self does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Another new bid in dairy takeover battle

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Murray Goulburn has lifted its offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to $533 million to stay in the three way race for the historic dairy company.


The latest Murray Goulburn offer – $9.50 for each Warrnambool share – further escalates its battle with Canadian dairy giant Saputo and Bega Cheese.

Murray Goulburn said its latest offer delivered demonstrably superior value to the competing proposals.

“Murray Goulburn remains firmly committed to acquiring WCB,” managing director Gary Helou said.

“A combined Murray Goulburn and WCB will create one of the largest Australian owned food and beverage businesses and a globally competitive dairy foods company 100 per cent controlled by dairy farmers.”

Murray Goulburn also wishes to explore the potential of Warrnambool paying special dividends under its revised offer, so that some Warrnambool shareholders may get franking credit benefits.

Murray Goulburn’s $9.50 cash offer is higher than the latest offer from Saputo, but is conditional upon Murray Goulburn attaining more than 50 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares and obtaining regulatory approval.

Saputo’s latest offer consists of an unconditional $9.00, plus an extra 20 cents if Saputo gains more than 50 per cent of Warrnambool’s shares.

Warrnambool’s board had supported the Saputo offer in the absence of a higher bid.

It will soon meet to review the new offer, and has advised shareholders not to act.

Rivkin Securities director Shannon Rivkin said the conditions attached to the Murray Goulburn may mean it falls short of what it needs to pay to have the Warrnambool board abandon support for Saputo’s “far more certain” offer.

“Still … it could simply mean that Saputo ups its bid to $9.50 to make the decision for shareholders easier,” Mr Rivkin said.

Some critics of the Murray Goulburn bid have questioned whether the company behind the Devondale brand would be able to pay off the debt arising from an acquisition of Warrnambool.

They say Murray Goulburn may not be able to lift milk prices paid to dairy farmers if debt payments are high.

Murray Goulburn’s prior offer was $9.00, which had already been revised from $7.50.

Bega Cheese has made a final offer of 1.5 Bega shares and $2 cash, worth $8.975 based on the closing price of Bega shares on Wednesday.

When Bega started the takeover battle for Warrnambool in September, the target’s shares were worth $4.51.

Warrnambool shares gained seven cents on Thursday to $9.32.

Bega shares gained nine cents to $4.74.

Suns’ Brown in clash with AFL teammate

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Gold Coast veteran Campbell Brown is being investigated over a clash which left AFL teammate Steven May with a suspected fractured jaw.


The Suns said in a statement that no other player was involved in the incident, which occurred in Los Angeles earlier this week, and they are still investigating.

Brown, a 2008 Hawthorn premiership player, has been with the Suns since their inaugural 2011 season.

The Suns said the incident took place after the completion of a club training camp in Arizona.

“The incident left May with a suspected fractured jaw, which is expected to require surgery,” the Suns said in the statement.

“No other players were involved.

“The club is in the process of establishing exactly what happened and all other relevant facts, and is discussing the matter with the two players concerned who have since returned to the Gold Coast ahead of their teammates.

“The Gold Coast Suns are considering appropriate actions and will not make further comment at this stage in relation to the incident.”

It’s not the first time Brown has been in trouble for misbehaving during an off-season overseas trip.

The Suns stripped him of their deputy vice-captaincy after the 2011 season, as punishment for an incident in Thailand that post-season.

On that occasion, Brown and three other Suns were arrested, after an argument with another tourist escalated into a physical fight, although they were released without charge.

Brown was the only Suns player punished by the club at that time, because of his leadership position.

He’s also frequently found trouble on the field.

The 30-year-old has missed 28 AFL games through suspension throughout his career, including the first six and the last three rounds of this season.

And he has a ban still hanging over his head for the first round of next season.

Brown has played a total of 205 AFL games – 159 for the Hawks and 46 for Gold Coast.

Imran Khan party ‘outs US spy’ in Pakistan

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Rising anger over deadly drone attacks has spurred a Pakistani political party to reveal the secret identity of what it said was the top US spy in the country.


It demanded he be tried for murder, another blow to already jagged relations between the two countries.

A pair of US missile strikes in recent weeks – including one that killed the Pakistani Taliban’s leader as the government prepared to invite him to hold peace talks – has increased simmering tensions after years of public fury over the covert attacks.

It was the second time in recent years that Pakistanis opposed to drone strikes targeting militants have claimed to have revealed the identity of the top CIA spy in the country.

In a letter to Pakistani police, Shireen Mazari, the information secretary of political party Tehreek-e-Insaf, called for the CIA station chief in Islamabad as well as CIA Director John Brennan to be tried for murder and “waging war against Pakistan” in connection with a November 21 drone strike on an Islamic seminary in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The political party is led by cricket star Imran Khan and controls the government in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

It is one of the main critics of the US drone program and has pushed Pakistan’s federal government, which is controlled by a rival party, to take extreme measures like cutting off the NATO troop supply line to Afghanistan until the US stops the attacks.

Mazari said in a news conference that the strike in the province’s Hangu district killed four Pakistanis and two Afghans, and also wounded children.

In her letter, Mazari claimed that the CIA station chief did not enjoy diplomatic immunity and should be prevented from leaving the country.

She said interrogating him could produce the names of the pilots who fly the drones.

Anila Khawaja, a spokeswoman for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, declined to say how the party learned the station chief’s name.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name and declined further comment.

The Associated Press is not publishing the name disclosed by Mazari because it could not verify its authenticity.

The job of the CIA station chief in Islamabad is generally a one-year assignment.

It involves running the Predator drone program targeting militants and serving as a US liaison to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, where the station chief’s identity is known by top officials.

In December 2010, the CIA pulled its top spy out of Pakistan after a lawsuit accused him of killing civilians in drone strikes.

The Pakistani lawsuit listed a name lawyers said was the station chief, but the AP learned at the time it was not correct.

Nevertheless, the CIA pulled the station chief out of the country after militants threatened to kill him.

It’s rare for a CIA station chief to have their cover blown.

In 1999, an Israeli newspaper revealed the identity of the station chief in Tel Aviv.

In 2001, an Argentine newspaper printed a picture of the Buenos Aires station chief and details about him.

In both instances, the station chiefs were recalled to the US.

Trott is no-go zone, Broad tells Australia

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England have challenged Australia to keep the Jonathan Trott issue to one side and avoid any on-field banter on the topic in next week’s Adelaide Test.


The tourists’ No.3 batsman has returned home with a stress-related illness following England’s defeat in the first Test in Brisbane.

England paceman Stuart Broad says he’s unsure if the Aussies will refrain from bringing up Trott’s name in the heat of battle, as demanded by England coach Andy Flower.

“I can’t say how they’ll react but as international cricketers and professional sportsmen they will understand the pressures that everyone is under and it can happen to anyone,” Broad told British newspapers.

“The Australian players will respect the decision of Trotty’s to go home and there is no doubt there is a lot of respect between the two sides.

“I can’t see any advantage Australia would gain from that.”

Flower and Broad have criticised Australia batsman David Warner for telling a news conference during the Gabba Test that Trott’s effort with the bat was weak.

Broad says the tourists are heartbroken over Trott’s departure.

“We’re on the end of a phone when he needs us,” Broad said.

Another England top-order batsman, Marcus Trescothick, pulled out of the 2006/07 Ashes tour with a stress-related illness before the first Test.

“I don’t think Tres going home was directly linked to England losing five-nil,” Broad said.

“Within the changing room there is no looking back at 2006 but we will certainly draw on our experience from 2010/11 and 2009 and 2013 where we played some excellent cricket against Australia.”

Broad defended Australia’s captain who was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for telling tailender Jimmy Anderson to get ready for a “f**king broken arm”.

“Michael Clarke was disciplined by the ICC because it was picked up by the stump mic,” Broad said.

“I don’t think it went overboard.”

But in a crack at Warner, Broad said England’s players don’t comment on opponents as they don’t know what’s going on in their personal lives.

Broad pointed out Warner’s century came after Australia established a 159-run lead on the first dig.

“He scored a very good hundred when he could play with no pressure on him. It is up to us to get runs on the board and apply some pressure to all their top order,” Broad said.

Gittany bit policeman’s ear

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Simon Gittany, the man infamously convicted of throwing his fiancee from a Sydney high-rise balcony, bit off part of a policeman’s ear while being arrested in 1994, records show.


Gittany, 40, pleaded not guilty to murdering his fiancee Lisa Cecilia Harnum by throwing her off their inner-city balcony on July 30, 2011.

He was convicted in a Sydney Supreme Court on Wednesday of killing her and will be sentenced next year.

Often unemployed and living at a Merrylands home with his mother, Gittany was in sight of Sydney police back in 1993.

Court documents reveal he attacked a police officer who went to his family home to arrest him over stolen goods.

When two officers, David Burgess and Keith Bristow, came to take him away on March 23, 1994, he resisted and a struggle ensued.

His mother Lamia Gittany was also involved in the melee, the documents say.

When the officers went to secure his arrest in a bedroom of the home, the then 20-year-old bit the ear of Senior Constable Bristow, who suffered “a severed portion to the left ear and generalised bruising”, the documents say.

Photos tendered to the court show Sen Const Bristow holding a piece of cloth to his ear as blood drips on his shirt and blood can be seen on his face as he sits in a wheelchair.

He required surgery.

The arrest was over stolen goods Gittany was caught with in August 1993 in Parramatta.

This included a VHS video recorder, a car stereo, a gold and diamond ring and a black-flowered bikini.

When asked by officers where he had obtained them, Gittany said a man at a pub had sold them to him for $200.

He later pleaded guilty to maliciously wounding an officer and receiving stolen goods.

He was sentenced to two and a half years of periodic detention.

Police on Thursday corrected media reports that the drug squad was investigating Gittany over business links with two methylamphetamine producers.

Bieber’s graffiti – will it stay or go?

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Graffiti by Justin Bieber is at the centre of a stoush between a Gold Coast hotel, which wants to keep it, and local authorities, who want it erased.


Bieber landed himself in trouble after photos and video footage showed the pop star nonchalantly spraying cartoon faces in fluorescent paint on the QT Hotel wall at Surfers Paradise early on Wednesday following his first Brisbane show.

The hotel says it gave the Canadian permission and that the council had no authority to get rid of the graffiti because it is on private property and not accessible from public land.

“He asked, and we said YES”, the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast said on its Facebook page next to a picture of the colourful spray can artwork.

The hotel said in a comment on the page that “we absolutely gave approval”.

The hotel reckons it’s a coup to have the star paint “a piece of art in appreciation of his stay”.

“This piece of art is now available to be viewed by fans of the artist and we believe that it is a wonderful addition to the colourful Gold Coast arts scene,” it said.

Even so, Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate says the council will order the removal of the graffiti.

“It might be on private land, but it’s in prominent public view,” a council spokesman told AAP.

“The mayor will be contacting our compliance officers today to have a notice issued to the hotel to clean it up.”

A photo of Bieber’s artistic offerings was posted on Instagram while entertainment website TMZ published a video of the incident.

Earlier, the mayor said the singer should clean up his mess.

He even suggested Bieber should perform for free at an upcoming Christmas carols event to make amends.

Mr Tate said the singer risked undermining the good work of the council in its fight against the scourge of graffiti.

“The last thing we want is to have graffiti glorified and more young people thinking it’s a cool thing to do,” he told AAP.

He said Bieber was welcome to use one of the council’s clean-up kits to get rid of his mess.

“I know he’s got beautiful eyes. I’ve got some goggles for him, and some gloves because I know he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty,” Mr Tate said.

“Just come and clean it up and we’ll be happy with you,” said Mr Tate.

“Alternatively come and sing at our mayoral Christmas carols on the 7th of December for an hour and I’ll let you go.”

Comment: India gets a snooping scandal of its own

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The tapes show that in 2009, a young woman architect, nicknamed “Madhuri” to protect her identity, was put under continuous surveillance for more than a month by the state intelligence bureau, the crime branch and the anti-terrorism squad of the western Indian state of Gujarat, in an operation run by the state’s notorious home minister, Amit Shah.


Shah himself reported the results of the surveillance to a higher-up only named in the tapes as “Saheb” (literally, “sir,” but more akin to “big boss”).

Why should this have ramifications not just for Gujarat but all of India? Well, the only man above Shah in Gujarat’s state machinery in 2009 was Narendra Modi, the charismatic and controversial chief minister of the state — and the man recently entrusted by India’s second-largest political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to lead its campaign in next year’s general elections. To put it another way, the enormous power already enjoyed by a man who could soon become prime minister was recently used by him in a grossly unethical and illegal stalking operation.

Modi has refused to speak on the matter. Confirmation that the “Saheb” masterminding the operation in the tapes was none other than Modi came from an unlikely source — the BJP itself, which circulated to the press a letter defending Modi written by the victim’s father, Pranlal Soni. Different sources have revealed that “Madhuri” was known to Modi beginning in 2005, when she was introduced to an officer in the state police department, and thereafter visited Gujarat frequently on assignments given to her by the government. Her father claimed that he himself had enjoyed “long-standing relations spread over two decades” with Modi, and it was he who had asked the minister to keep watch over his daughter “in her own interest, safety and security.”

So it was only Papa who was feeling concerned. Really? Far from exculpating Modi from the charge of a terrible violation of privacy, the letter amplifies its seriousness. This possibility seems never to have occurred to his party, which seems to have imagined the letter would lead to the burial of the matter as “a family affair” in which two old friends got together to look out — for mystifying, but generally well-meaning, reasons — for a defenseless young woman.

Even more perversely, Soni claimed that his daughter was aware that she was being kept under watch. But even if we assume this is true, the state has no business breaching a citizen’s privacy based on an offer made by one person speaking on another’s behalf. Further, the conversations in the tapes reveal that the purpose of the surveillance seems to have less to do with ensuring “Madhuri’s” safety, and more with determining men she was meeting., the news portal that broke the story, supplied some of the astonishing details of the operation:

The recordings reveal that Madhuri was tailed even as she visited shopping malls, restaurants, ice-cream parlours, gyms, cinema halls, hotels and airports. She was followed even when she visited her ailing mother in a hospital in Ahmedabad. When she boarded a flight out of Ahmedabad, orders were issued to put cops on the flight so that she was not out of sight even when she was flying. Strict orders were given to closely observe and profile those who met her. Shah was particularly interested in knowing the men she was meeting and whether she was alone or with some man when she checked into a hotel in Ahmedabad. Her phones and that of her family and friends were tapped. Every bit of information was conveyed to Shah in real time, who in turn claimed to be relaying it to his ‘saheb’.

But Snoopgate and the reactions to it don’t just reveal something about Modi, they also reveal something about India. Indians are rarely very stringent in their regard for personal liberty — especially the liberties due in theory, but rarely allowed in practice, to women. As the columnist Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote in a crushing piece on Modi and the BJP in the Indian Express, “In India, there is way too little outrage at the ease with which states violate privacy rights.”

Plenty of people seemed willing to interpret the story of Madhuri being stalked as evidence of the woman’s good fortune in being “protected” by an entire police force, a sign of how deeply patriarchy runs in India’s veins. And much of the news media seemed to treat the revelations as a matter that lay within the domain of a politician’s private life, an arena generally agreed to be out of bounds. Seen in this light, it was very clever of the BJP to activate the word “family” in its defense of Snoopgate, as that word in India can be used to sanctify all manner of outrages.

The fact remains: Something is rotten in the state of Gujarat. A recent report by Mahesh Langa, the Gujarat correspondent of the Hindustan Times, revealed that illegal surveillance is widely practiced by the state administration. Langa writes,”The extent of snooping is so pervasive that Gujarat’s director general of police Amitabh Pathak was shocked to learn in May that his own police officials had obtained call detail records of as many as 93,000 mobile phone numbers without his knowledge since December 2012.”

If Snoopgate is just the tip of the iceberg, this has serious implications for the future of Indian democracy and the rights and freedoms guaranteed to its citizens. Were the general public to fall for the BJP’s spin and accept the explanation — as many seem to have done — that the surveillance of “Madhuri” was actually something benign, a future Indian state headed by Modi could indulge in further such trespasses.

The feebleness, ineffectuality and corruption of the coalition government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made many middle-class Indians, including substantial sections of the youth, clamor for “a strong man” to lead the country in a new direction in 2014. Modi has emerged to fill this space, attracting hundreds of thousands in rallies all around the country. In the run-up to next year’s elections, it was Modi’s alleged sins of omission or commission in the terrible religious violence of Gujarat in 2002 that had thus far been cited as the main reason for his being unfit for the post of prime minister.

But the sordid details of Snoopgate reveal that the chief minister of Gujarat has many other skeletons in his closet, and that the great power and slavish admiration he enjoys in his state means that he runs it like a kingdom.

India’s economy may be faltering, and the potential and aspirations of its billion-plus people still largely unfulfilled, but at least it qualifies in some measure as a country committed to civil liberties. Can it entrust those freedoms to a man so in love with his own power that he cannot see the contradictions inherent in keeping a woman under constant surveillance “in her own interest”? I wouldn’t think so.

Chandrahas Choudhury, a novelist, is the New Delhi correspondent for World View. His novel “Arzee the Dwarf” is published by New York Review Books.

Report debunks assumptions on trafficking

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More females than males have been convicted in Australia for human trafficking and slavery, and none have had links to organised crime groups.


Since Australia introduced tough laws to crack down on trafficking a decade ago, nine schemes have been successfully prosecuted in Australia.

The Australian Institute of Criminology said that while middle-aged men were often assumed to be behind trafficking and slavery, eight of 15 people eventually convicted in Australia were women.

The report found the female offenders were all migrants, born in the same foreign country as their victims, and typically from similar poor socio-economic backgrounds.

The majority of the schemes involved slavery of Thai women in the sex industry, with the victims forced to pay debts of tens of thousands of dollars, owed to offenders for organising their passage to Australia.

“Almost all the offenders in the sex industry had prior work experience in that industry,” the report, released on Thursday, found.

“At least three of the female offenders had reportedly been victims of slavery in Australia themselves.”

The trafficking often involved other crimes such as immigration fraud and money laundering.

The report also found local offenders did not match common assumptions that they were involved in “high-end organised crime”, which was often the case internationally.

“In fact, groups identified as having trafficked people into Australia have been relatively small, with many using family or business contracts to facilitate recruitment, movement and visa fraud.”

Institute deputy director Rick Brown said understanding the nature and motivation of trafficking would help authorities stamp out the crime.

“The report found that offenders often effectively partnered with trusted co-offenders from close knit, cultural or family groups and were able to rely upon their connections in the source country to facilitate human trafficking crimes,” Dr Brown said in a statement.

“It’s important that law enforcement understands the characteristics of trafficking crimes in Australia to ensure policy is properly targeted.”

Larrazabal gets one-shot win in Abu Dhabi

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Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal has ended his title drought on the European Tour by holding off Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy to win the $US2.


7 million ($A3.1 million) Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship by one shot.

At the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course on Sunday, the 30-year-old from Barcelona shot a final-round 67 to finish on 14-under par 274, while world number five Mickelson (69) and number seven McIlroy (68) were tied second at 275.

While Larrazabal was solid throughout the day, barring a bogey on the fifth hole, the tournament turned around massively in his favour when Mickelson made a mess of the 13th hole, where he hit the ball twice trying to come out from under a bush playing a right-handed shot.

Mickelson ended up with a triple bogey and from leading the tournament at 13-under par he dropped down the leaderboard, and even three birdies after that could not help him overtake Larrazabal.

McIlroy was left ruing the two-shot penalty that was imposed on him for not taking full relief from a spectators’ crossway in the third round Saturday.

South African George Coetzee (66) and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello (68) were tied for fourth place at 12-under par 276.

Larrazabal said: “It just feels unbelievable. I’ve been working so hard for the last two years and this winter. They always say that the hard work pays off, but it’s hard to believe it.

“Today has been very special, to fight against Rory and Phil, top-five players in the world, both of them. It’s been a great fight.”

A disappointed McIlroy said: “I feel like I’m standing here and I should be 15-under par for the tournament and win by one. But that’s the way it goes.

“I played the least shots of anyone this week. So, I mean, I can count it as a moral victory more than anything else.

“It’s frustrating. I’ve played well the whole week. It’s a very positive start to the season so I’m not going to let one little negative ruin that.”

For Larrazabal this was his third European Tour title, his previous wins coming in 2008 and 2011.