Elvira wins Wales Open, dedicates to slain golfer

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Nacho Elvira squandered a six-shot overnight lead in the Wales Open and bogeyed the 18th hole before rallying to beat Justin Harding in a playoff to win his first European Tour title on Sunday.

Elvira dedicated his victory to Spanish golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was murdered in 2018.

Harding three-putted the first extra hole, the par-five 18th, to gift victory to Elvira, who had earlier made the same mistake when a closing par would have secured the title at Celtic Manor.

“I thought I had it all pretty much under control and to be honest I got pretty nervous on the last couple of putts on the regular 18(th),” Elvira told Sky Sports. “I was more calm in the playoff than I was on 18.”

Elvira finished the final round on a par 71 for a four-day total of 16-under 268.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen (66) and South Africa’s Harding (65) had both played their first 15 holes of the final round in 6-under par to share the lead on 16 under, with Elvira falling a shot behind after covering his first 14 holes in 1 over.

The 34-year-old Spaniard then drove the green on the short par-four 15th to set up a straightforward birdie and holed from 20 feet for another on the 17th to retake the lead, only to three-putt the last from 18 feet.

“To be honest I was thinking especially during the last nine or 10 holes about Celia Barquin, she passed away a few years ago,” Elvira said. “I was good friends with her family and this is for her.”

Barquin, who won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship in 2018, was a student at Iowa State University when she was found dead on a course in the state in September that year. Collin Richards pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 2019.

Korhonen finished a shot outside the playoff following a costly bogey on the 17th, with England’s Callum Shinkwin another stroke back in fourth.

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