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Elvira holds on for one-stroke win at Soudal Open

By admin May30,2024


May 26, 2024, 09:59 AM ET

ANTWERP, Belgium — Nacho Elvira‘s favored 2-iron cracked in the warmup. He was soaked by a brief torrential downpour. He saw his four-shot overnight lead wiped out after 10 holes.

Nothing was coming easy for the Spanish golfer as he tried to secure his second European tour title at the Soudal Open on Sunday.

In the end, he just about did enough.

Elvira parred his final seven holes to hold on for a one-stroke victory in Belgium on Sunday and a first victory in three years.

“Such a relief,” the No. 217-ranked Elvira said in what proved to be a tearful post-round interview.

Elvira closed with an even-par 71 at Rinkven International Golf Club and was almost denied by Denmark’s Niklas Nørgaard, who had a birdie putt from about 12 feet at No. 18 to force a playoff.

Nørgaard missed it right and had to settle for a 68 and a tie for second place with home favorite Thomas Pieters (66) and Romain Langasque, who birdied the last for a 68.

Joe Dean, an Englishman who resorted to delivering groceries earlier this year to make ends meet, started the final round in second place and was tied with Elvira after his opening nine holes. Dean faded, though, shooting 1 over on his back nine for a 69 and a tie for fifth.

Elvira’s other win came at the Cazoo Open in Wales in July 2021, and he said he never felt comfortable in his chase for a second title, especially without his 2-iron.

“To be honest, I was quite nervous that I was hitting it off the tee not too well and it was so hard the last few holes,” he said. “I knew I had a couple of driving holes I wasn’t comfortable with.

“When you’re hitting it good, everything seems easy. When you’re not, everything seems very complicated, and I told my caddie that for some reason I wasn’t feeling it today — maybe a mix of emotions and it being hard to keep it in play.”

Elvira’s pinpoint short game made up for his waywardness off the tee.

“I was trying to keep it in play somehow and it paid off,” said Elvira, who had to endure an agonizing wait on the 18th green after his birdie putt shaved the cup and gave Norgaard one final chance.

Nørgaard couldn’t back up his 7-foot birdie putt at No. 16 and an eagle from 13 feet at No. 17, but the world No. 335 still secured his best-ever finish on the European tour.

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