A lot of people talk about the Golf Gods and the cruel and peculiar ways they wreak havoc, mentally and physically, on unsuspecting lugs just trying to get their ball in the hole in as few a shots as possible. (That doesn’t include me, mind you, as I don’t dare directly talk about the sport’s mystical overseers, least they punish me with a case of the yips or the shanks. I instead refer to them indirectly, and strictly in the name of journalism.)
It wasn’t the Golf Gods, however, that necessarily got Nacho Elvira on Sunday at the Maybank Championship. More like Mother Nature. Elvira, seeking his first career European Tour win, had led heading into the final round at Saujana Golf & Country Club in Kaula Lumpur, but was now one stroke back of Scott Hend, the 45-year-old Aussie competing with Elvira in the final group, as they were playing the 569-yard par-5 closing hole. Under ominous skies, the Spaniard was set to hit his third shot on the 18th, a short pitch just shy of the green. Yet just in the middle of his swing, a loud clap of thunder rolled through, distracting Elvira and causing him to leave his ball a disappointing 30 feet from the hole.
The European Tour originally had a video of the unfortunate coincidence posted on Twitter (which we embedded when we originally posted this story this morning), but the tour has since, disappointingly, taken it down. If you didn’t see it earlier this morning, it was pretty amazing how precisely as Elvira is about to hit the ball, you can hear the boom.
After that thunder, tournament officials, as John Huggan wrote in his piece about the conclusion of the final round, had no choice but to halt play and wait out the electricity in the area before letting them finish up. Hend was facing a 20-foot birdie try himself that could have ended the affair in regulation.
And wait they did … for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The delay could have rattled Elvira, but impressively the 32-year-old didn’t let it. When he returned to the course and face the crucial putt, he stepped up and created a jolt of his own.
Hend could not top it, and the pair went to extra holes, the first playoff of the 2018-’19 European Tour season. But Elvira could not keep the momentum going, hitting into a greenside bunker on the playoff hole, a return to the 18th, and making a par to Hend’s birdie. Elvira will have to wait for the maiden victory some other day. In the meantime, we don’t blame him if he takes the
Golf Gods Mother Nature’s name in vein.