Spain’s Nacho Elvira defeated Justin Harding in a play-off at Celtic Manor to win his first European Tour title at the Cazoo Open, a tournament formerly known as the Wales Open.
Elvira took a six-stroke lead into the final day on The Twenty Ten Course, but was caught by the chasing pack as Callum Shinkwin, Mikko Korhonen and Harding staked their claims for the title. Of those giving chase, Harding rose to the top as he signed for a 65 to set the clubhouse target at 16 under.
Elvira, who sat on 17 under, and was one under for the day when stood on the 18th tee, found the 72nd green with his third stroke after laying up on the par-five closing hole.
The 34-year-old had two putts for victory, but missed a three-footer coming back after sliding his first past the hole, facing a play-off after tapping in for bogey.
On the first extra hole, both found the green in three but, after Elvira missed a birdie chance to win from nine feet, Harding missed his attempt at matching the Spaniard’s par to hand Elvira his first title on his 195th European Tour start.
After almost letting the tournament slip from his hands, a relieved Elvira said: “It was tougher than I thought, it’s golf and you have to play 72 holes. I was playing with Callum, he was playing great – he was hitting at every pin and trying to catch some ground. I had a little bit of a shaky start and woke up on number six, then started playing some solid golf. I missed a couple of shots. I was trying to be not too aggressive.
“I think the putter wasn’t as sharp today as it was the last two days, you could see that on 18, obviously. After six I was pretty relaxed until 18, the last three putts were tough. I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I was more relaxed in the play-off than I was in regulation. I hit a good drive, just a little bit left, and I didn’t catch a good lie – on the rough. I had good distance to go for it, but the lie wasn’t good enough. I saw Justin laid up, so decided to get a good yardage and try to hit a great shot – that’s what I did. After that I hit a great putt, just a little bit short.”
“Seve [Ballesteros] and José [María Olazábal] would probably have their heads in their hands if they had seen that last putt on 18. I hope they’re proud. I hope Seve would have been proud, and I hope José María is proud as well.”
Nacho Elvira – What’s in the Bag
Driver: Callaway Epic MAX LS (9°)
Fairways: Callaway Epic Speed (15°)
Utility: Callaway X Forged UT (21°)
Irons: Callaway Apex TCB 21, 3-PW
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 5 JAWS (50°, 54°, 58°)
Putter: Odyssey Toulon Long Island
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