For over three years, Nacho Elvira and Andrea Pavan went to the same classes together, shared a flat together and toured the American collegiate golfing circuit together, so it must have been fate that the Spaniard would join his Italian friend in graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2013.
They both did so in the most spectacular of fashions, with Pavan claiming the prestigious title of Challenge Tour Number One after doubling his win count on the developmental tour to four during a superbly consistent campaign – but Elvira’s rise was arguably the more dramatic.
With five events to go in a long season, Elvira was sitting in 85th position in the Challenge Tour Rankings, but he embarked on an incredible run of form, finishing with five successive top tens including a triumphant victory in the inaugural Foshan Open in China.
His future hung in the balance at the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club, entering the week right on the bubble in 15th place, but he soared to a final round 66 to climb into a share of ninth place and earn a rookie season on The European Tour.
“It feels great to be a European Tour player,” he said. “It all happened very quickly. Late in July I was only trying to get into the top 100 to play in Kazakhstan and then I started playing well and got a couple of good finishes and it was all uphill from there.
“Honestly, I don’t know what sparked it. I was just setting some goals one by one, to play well in Ukraine and then get into Kazakhstan and get a top ten there, so that I could make it into The Foshan Open, because I didn’t have a category for it.
“It all worked out pretty well, with my top ten in Kazakhstan getting me into China. China was the breakthrough and everything changed. I moved up to 13th place and I was in with a chance then of making my European Tour card.
“Obviously my goals turned around big time with that win. I was just looking to get to the Grand Final and get an exemption for Final Stage at Qualifying School, but all of a sudden I was in the top 15.”
And there he stayed, but it may not have been so easy for the 25 year old were it not for the fact that one of his closest friends was more than a little adept in the skill of making it on the Challenge Tour – namely Pavan.
The Roman has played two seasons on the tour, finishing in second place in the Rankings first time out in 2011 before finishing top of the pile in his second attempt this year. Friends in high places, indeed.
“Andrea and I met long ago, on the amateur scene,” said Elvira. “Then we went to college together and lived together for three-and-a-half years, so it has been amazing. We went to all the classes together, played all the tournaments together and roomed together when travelling so it’s been a good relationship.
“He’s been helping me out because he had a lot more experience than me, playing in the Challenge Tour in 2011 and a year on The European Tour, so he was helping me out, telling me I needed to this and I should do that.
“I'm excited to see what the next step is but these last couple of months have been unbelievable, with him helping me out, and I'm really happy for him. He set his goal to win the Challenge Tour Rankings and he did that, so I’m happy for him – and I bet he was happy for me too.
“The year he played The European Tour he didn’t keep his card so he has some learning to do as well, but he has some experience and he can tell me what I should be doing and what I should not be doing.”