Nacho Elvira dedicates first European Tour title to slain golfer

A golfer named Nacho won something called the Cazoo Open. Does it get any better than that?

On a busy day in golf, the European Tour event at Celtic Manor in Wales slipped under the radar. But the headline to a story about Spain’s Nacho Elvira winning the title in a playoff gave me goose bumps.

It had nothing to do with the 34-year-old former Texas A&M Aggie winning for the first time in his career, although kudos to him for that. It was that he dedicated the victory to Spanish golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was murdered in 2018. The story of how she was found dead on a course in Iowa, where she was a student and golfer at Iowa State, still keeps me up at night.

Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at a golf course in Ames. Collin Daniel Richards, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death. (Luke Lu/Iowa State University via AP)

I’ve been following Elvira for some time mostly because of his name. Is there a better name in golf? I don’t think so. Plus, in the only time we ever crossed paths, he held the door as I dragged my golf bag and luggage through an international airport. In other words, he’s a friend for life.

On Sunday, Elvira blew a six-shot overnight lead heading into the final round at the Cazoo Wales Open and bogeyed the 18th hole to drop into a playoff with Justin Harding. But the South African took three putts on the first playoff hole, the par-five 18th, to hand Elvira the title.

“I thought I had it all pretty much under control and to be honest I got pretty nervous on the last couple of putts,” Elvira told Sky Sports of his three-putt at 18 in regulation. “I was more calm in the playoff than I was on 18.”

Afterwards, he spoke about Barquin, who won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship in 2018, and who served as a good luck charm of sorts on Sunday.

“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.”

Collin Richards pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in August 2019. Elvira’s win was cool, but his dedication of the victory turned an otherwise forgettable Euro Tour event into an underappreciated moment during Sunday’s trophy hunt.