Spain’s Nacho Elvira, the world No 694, won his maiden European Tour title this past Sunday, shrugging off squandering a six-shot lead to defeat South Africa’s Justin Harding in a playoff.
Elvira (34) parred the first extra hole at Celtic Manor to secure his first victory at the 195th attempt.
He dedicated his win to Celia Barquin Arozamena, a fellow golfer who was a student at Iowa State University when she was found dead on a course in September, 2018.
Earlier in the year, Barquin (22) had won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship.
“To be honest, I was thinking especially during the last nine or 10 holes about Celia Barquin, she passed away a few years ago. I was good friends with her family and this is for her,” said Elvira.
Barquin’s killer, Collin Richards, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2019.
Elvira had not recorded a top 10 for over two years and had endured nine missed cuts in his last 11 events before his visit to Wales.
“That’s what we practise for and what we strive for. We try to win, to be at the best level on the European Tour and play with the best. It means the world to me,” he said.
Harding and Finland’s Mikko Korhonen had both played their first 15 holes in six under par to share the lead on 16 under, with Elvira covering his first 14 holes in one over.
The Spaniard then drove the green on the short par-four 15th to set up a birdie and holed from 20 feet for another on the 17th to retake the lead.
However, he then three-putted the last from 18 feet to send the tournament into a playoff.
He is the third wire-to-wire winner of the season and just the second Spanish winner of the event after Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2005.
“What am I doing to myself? I’m speechless right now to be honest,” the champion told europeantour.com.
“I thought I had it all pretty under control but to be honest I got pretty nervous on the last couple of putts on the regular 18. I was more calm in the playoff than I was on the 18.”
© Agence France-Presse