When Pablo Larrazábal returned from schooling in the United States, he was focused on becoming a professional golfer.
But his father, Gustavo, made him work on the family fish farm in Santander just to teach him the value of money. And then in 2004 he allowed his son to pursue his dream of professional golf.
After a few years on the mini tours of Europe and the European Challenge Tour, the Spaniard earned his playing privileges on the European Tour for the 2008 season.
He won his first title in the Open de France, which he led from the start, and was named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
A slump in form saw him struggle for the next few years before another breakthrough in 2011, when he beat countryman Sergio Garcia in a playoff for the BMW International Open.
And it was an emotional triumph for him over his hero.
“I followed Sergio when I was ten or 12. He was playing at the same tournaments as my brother, and you know, I grew up following Sergio. So it's just a dream. If you tell me who you want to beat in a playoff, first it's Tiger and then it's Sergio, so it's been great.”
He showed his potential again this year when he beat Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
“You know, it's been a long journey, it's been a lot of work,” he said after that triumph. “Only my team, my family and I, know how much I work for it. No holidays, not too many days off.”
And he has a special way of explaining his three victories to date.
“The first win in France was a win of talent. You know, I could win any golf tournament that week in France. Not even Tiger could get me that week. The second win was a win of belief. I believed in myself in the playoff. And the third win was a win of hard work.”
Larrazábal is certainly looking forward to making his debut in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and playing golf in South Africa again, which he has always enjoyed.
“I love to play in South Africa, and I love the South African people.”