Nacho Elvira will take a one-stroke lead into the weekend at the Magical Kenya Open presented by absa after eagling the final hole to cap a six under par round of 65.
The Spaniard started the day three strokes off the lead and fell further behind after a bogey on the fourth hole. But the 36-year-old, whose sole DP World Tour victory came at the 2021 Cazoo Open, recovered with two birdies before the turn on the seventh and eighth holes.
He carded his third birdie of the day on the tenth and then recorded five success pars before finishing birdie-birdie-eagle to card a ten under par total, sitting one stroke ahead of a trio of golfers on nine under.
Sharing second place are Germany’s Nick Bachem, South African Jayden Schaper and Ryo Hisatsune of Japan. Hisatsune carded the lowest round of the day at Muthaiga Golf Club as he signed for an eight under par 63.
Three-time DP World Tour winner John Catlin shares fifth place with Masahiro Kawamura of Japan and Spain’s Borja Virto.
Leading the home charge is Mutahi Kibugu, the only Kenyan golfer to make the cut in this year’s event. The 21-year-old follows in the footsteps of his younger brother Njoroge, who made the cut last year.
Kibugu delighted the home crowds with a birdie on the 18th as he signed for a level par round of 71, sitting in a share of 36th place on three under.
Nacho Elvira: “Every time you’re leading it’s the best position to be in. I feel like I’ve been playing good, even at the beginning of the year when I was missing cuts but 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, I’ve been struggling. 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.”
Nick Bachem: “On my first hole (on Thursday) I had a three-putt bogey, so it wasn’t the perfect start. But after that I’ve been putting really well inside two or three metres. Every time I miss the green, I wouldn’t say I make no mistakes from the tee, but if I miss the green I always get it inside two or three metres. It feels pretty easy so far, which is nice. Just good, solid golf.”
Ryo Hisatsune: “I’m so happy. I tried to make a lot of birdies, make the putts. I’m so happy. I was putting well, the greens are similar in Japan. I can see the reads and make the putts and a lot of birdies.”
Jayden Schaper: “Last minute invite on the Sunday, sitting at home not knowing if I was going to play. I’ve been playing some good golf, I’m very happy to be here and it’s nice to put some good rounds together and get off to a good start.
“I’ve got my dad on the bag, I’m feeling good. I know the golf course, everything to gain, nothing to lose. I just have to get out there, have some fun and hit some good golf shots.”
Mutahi Kibugu: “It feels amazing. Especially to hole that putt on the last, in front of my family, friends, everyone. I’m still excited.
“Now I’ve calmed down a bit. I had a bit of pressure on the last two holes, but I knew if I kept in my game I could probably get one birdie and I would be alright. I saw the cut was projected minus one, so I knew I was fine. I wasn’t going to make a bogey on the last there.
“(The birdie on 18) was amazing. I’ll be watching that for 50 years. That’s what dreams are.”