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Nacho Elvira holds nerve to take Soudal Open glory in Belgium

Nacho Elvira holds nerve to take Soudal Open glory in Belgium

Nacho Elvira carded a gutsy level-par 71 to hold on and claim his second DP World Tour title at the Soudal Open after a dramatic afternoon at Rinkven International Golf Club.

The Spaniard entered the final day with a four-shot advantage and quickly extended that to five but at the finale found himself on the 18th green at 18 under watching playing partner Niklas Nørgaard stand over a birdie putt to force a play-off.

The Dane, however, missed his 12-footer, leaving Elvira to celebrate a one-shot victory, with Frenchman Romain Langasque and home favourite Thomas Pieters in a share of second.

English duo Joe Dean and Matthew Jordan were then at 16 under, with Dean the only player to briefly share the lead with Elvira during a tense fourth round.

Elvira's victory serves as a reward for some remarkable consistency in a 2024 season where he has missed just one cut by a single shot and finished second at the Magical Kenya Open.

The 37-year-old's victory at the 2021 Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale came after a play-off despite him entering the final round in Wales with a six-shot advantage and he must have been fearing that he would need extra holes again as he scrambled over the closing holes.

A broken two iron in the warm-up and 23-minute rain delay in the middle of the round did not help matters but Elvira showed remarkable determination to get over the line and was holding back the tears in his winner's interview.

"I'm very happy," he said. "I was a little bit emotional because I know all the hard work that I put in that sometimes doesn't show. I couldn't ask for anything better.

"I wasn't feeling comfortable off the tee today, my driving was a little bit off and you really need to hit it straight here.

"It was all hard because I knew I wasn't hitting it good but I tried to keep it in play and I tried to hold on to it."

Elvira has been joined by brother Manuel on the DP World Tour this season after his graduation from the European Challenge Tour and the elder Elvira is hoping his sibling can take inspiration from his victory.

"It is special," he said. "You work hard and I tried to teach him that this game doesn't pay off quickly, you need to be patient. So hopefully he'll learn something from this and keep pushing."

Elvira put an approach to six feet at the first to lead by five but Langasque reeled him back in, hitting a smart approach into the third and holing an 18-footer on the sixth.

The heavens had opened by that point and after the delay due to flooded greens while the final two groups were playing the seventh, the leaderboard would soon have a very different look.

Langasque three-putted the seventh and Elvira also made a bogey after being blocked out off the tee, with Dean and Pieters making moves.

Playing alongside Elvira, Dean made a two-putt birdie on the fifth, hit a beautiful wedge after laying up on the driveable eighth and then holed a 44-footer on the ninth to sit just one back.

He briefly shared the lead as Elvira bogeyed the tenth after finding trees off the tee but Dean also bogeyed the hole after failing to get up and down and found himself alongside Pieters at 16 under.

Pieters set up a tap-in at the first and then played smart pitch into the fourth and a tidy approach to the sixth to move up the leaderboard.

A bogey followed on the seventh but he holed a long putt on the eighth and produced another excellent pitch on the short 11th to get within one.

Elvira holed from 13 feet at the 11th himself to ease some of the pressure and Pieters was alone in second after a poor Dean tee-shot on the same hole.

Dean's tee-shot on the 13th was heading a long way left but hit a marshal and the 29-year-old took advantage of the break to birdie from 28 feet and get back to 16 under, where Jordan had set the clubhouse target.

The 28-year-old picked up birdies on the second, fifth, eighth, 13th, 16th and last in a bogey-free 65.

Pieters drove right up to the front of the short 16th to get up and down, cut the lead to one and set the clubhouse target with a 66 as the pressure continued to ratchet up on Elvira.

Langasque had made nine pars in a row but got up and down on the par-five 17th and then holed from 16 feet on the last to also get to 17 under after a 68 as Nørgaard made a charge.

The 31-year-old looked out of it after bogeys on the first and third but made a two-putt gain on the fifth and took advantage of the driveable eighth to turn in level par.

A smart up-and-down on the driveable 16th then kept his hopes alive and when he hit a wonderful drive on the par-five 17th and holed from 13 feet for eagle, he was just one back heading to the 18th, where he completed a 68.

Dean had dropped a shot on the 16th but regained it on the last in his 69 to finish a shot ahead of countryman Laurie Canter, Spaniard Sebastian Garcia and Kiwi Sam Jones.