Elvira paces Kenya Open

‘It’s my caddie’s first week with me, I’ve been struggling trying to enjoy myself on the golf course and I’m trying to do that at the moment.’

Nacho Elvira produced a magnificent birdie-birdie-eagle finish to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the 2023 Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa.

Afternoon starter Elvira recovered from an early bogey with three birdies around the turn before late fireworks saw the Spaniard sign for a 65, reach ten under par and overtake Nick Bachem, Jayden Schaper and Ryo Hisatsune at the top of the leaderboard.

Japan’s Hisatsune had set the early clubhouse target at nine under in the morning, carding ten birdies and two bogeys in his 63 — the lowest round of the week so far.

He was then joined at the summit in the afternoon, with German Bachem making four birdies and no bogeys in his 67 and South African Schaper posting a 65 after following up seven birdies with a closing bogey.

American John Catlin, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and Spain’s Borja Virto were in a tie for fifth on eight under.

After kicking off his second round with three straight pars, Elvira dropped his first shot of the week on the long fourth.

But he made amends with back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth before beginning the back nine with a gain on the tenth.

Elvira, whose only DP World Tour win so far came at the 2021 Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale, then made a late charge as he took advantage of the short 16th before getting another birdie at the 17th to sit one shot off the lead.

He closed his round with a spectacular eagle on the 18th to take over at the top of the leaderboard.

Elvira said: “Every time you’re leading it’s the best position to be in. I feel like I’ve been playing well — even at the beginning of the year when I was missing cuts I felt like the game was still there.”

“Maybe a couple more putts dropped the last few days and that makes it a good score.”

“I didn’t look at the leaderboard (before starting). We had a game plan, we tried to stick to it. We tried to enjoy the moment.”

“It’s my caddie’s first week with me, I’ve been struggling trying to enjoy myself on the golf course and I’m trying to do that at the moment.”

“I’m just trying not to worry too much about it. I guess I was putting too much pressure on myself trying to make things work when everything was actually working. I was trying to be too perfect on every part of my game.”

“I feel like my game is coming together, I just needed to putt a little better. I wasn’t too worried about it, I just needed to let it flow.”

The crowds at Muthaiga Golf Club have been in fine voice this week, with the ovation that followed home favourite Mutahi Kibugu’s birdie at the last one of the highlights of the second round.

And Elvira loved being backed by the locals.

He added: “The support is amazing.”

“I was telling my caddie on the 13th or 14th, we heard the crowds and you felt like you were at Wentworth or somewhere like that.”

“There was so much cheering, it was very loud and it’s unbelievable to be able to enjoy that.”

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