Saturday, 14 April 2018
The crowds out there were unbelievable - Elvira

Nacho Elvira admits his emotions may get the better of him if he claims his first European Tour title at the Open de España on Sunday afternoon.

The Madrid native has won in the Spanish capital before at the Challenge de Madrid on the Challenge Tour in 2015, a season when he claimed three victories to snatch back his European Tour playing privileges.

Since then he has lost a play-off at the 2016 Trophée Hassan II but is still searching for that elusive first European Tour win and he knows he will face a big battle at Centro Nacional de Golf.

Leader Paul Dunne is one shot ahead of him with World Number Four Jon Rahm and Swede Henric Sturehed a shot behind but the 31 year old will try not to get caught up in the magnitude of the afternoon and simply enjoy his golf.

"I don't know if I can even describe what I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an incredible week. I've never seen this many people together on a golf course, at least on this golf course. It's been kind of difficult to hold it together today because it was kind of emotional, everybody was pushing around - it's been an amazing day.

"Obviously, playing well helps. I'm playing good golf, I'm staying patient and I'm not looking forward to doing anything special. I'm just trying to enjoy this golf course, these people and, finally, this weather.

"The crowds today were unbelievable. I've been in contention before but not like this, people all over Madrid, all over Spain supporting and cheering me on. It's been fantastic.

"There's going to be a lot of emotion tomorrow. If it's at least half of what I'm feeling today it's going to be tough but I would like to keep trying to make people enjoy what they are watching - that's what Spanish golf needs, it needs to show that it's fun to come and watch a golf tournament.

"I'll try to stick with my game plan, relax, try to have fun and see what happens. I'll probably start crying if I win."

Rahm has two Rolex Series wins to his name but he believes a triumph in his National Open would be the most special victory of them all.

I'll probably start crying if I win - Nacho Elvira

"Being able to win this event would probably be the most special out of all because I have been a national champion at amateur level so many different ways," he said.

"To be able to clinch it as a professional, to be the Spanish Open champion and join this elite group of Spanish players who won it, it would be amazing. You have names like Sergio (Garcia) and Seve (Ballesteros), and many others. I just found out my coach's grandfather also won it in 1945, so it has a long legacy of great players."

For Sturehed, a victory would be a remarkable achievement in his rookie season.

He only made his European Tour debut at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open after coming through the Qualifying School but had not made a single cut before this week.

Despite failing to make the weekend in six European Tour events and one on the Challenge Tour this season, he never lost faith in his ability and is looking forward to contending on Sunday.

"I've been waiting for this for quite some time now," he said. "I knew in me that I can play very good golf and I'm very happy to have played this golf during these first days. Just stick to my game-plan and trust my game, that's what I did and it paid off.

"My strength is my driver from the tee but during these three days my wedge game and my short irons have been really good and the putter has also been quite good actually.

"It's fun to play golf now. It's very fun, I'm enjoying every moment of it. It's a great course and a great audience."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RAHM, JonESP18-20
2DUNNE, PaulIRL18-18
3ELVIRA, NachoESP18-17
4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-16
T5WARREN, MarcSCO18-15
T5CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18-15

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