Just as Daniel Gavins appeared to be in full, excruciating implosion and on his way to blow a three-shot lead into the final in the style of Jean val de Velde, the Yorkshireman produced one of the most powerful putts the DP World Tour has seen. will ever witness the sealing of a first piece of silverware since 2021.
It all seemed so simple for World No. 298 Gavins as he stepped onto the final tee of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He was in a battle with Alexander Bjork all day, but when the Swede, who played in the group ahead of us, bogeyed on the par-fifth 18th, Gavins had a significant advantage. With just one bogey on a scorecard illuminated by six birdies, his second title was certainly a formality.
And even when he cut his drive into the water on the 586-yarder, he still had room to breathe. He played three off the tee, hit the fairway and from there he only had to go onto the green twice more and he would still have two putts for the first prize of £280,000.
But with his mind shaken, Gavins went for it and watched in despair as it leaked right back into a watery grave. Now playing six, he chipped to 26 feet and watching Bjork prepare for a playoff.
Except Gavins came out amazingly for a total of 68 and 17 under. There was a clenched fist, but no wild celebration – perhaps mindful that behind Zander Lombard could force sudden death with an eagle – but soon he was toasting a one-time victory.
“I’m speechless, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve struggled off the tee for the past two weeks and it’s not a great tee shot to have at 18.
“It was a tough hole to get through and to be honest I thought I was holding that putt for a playoff. I didn’t realize Bjork had made a bogey. I put two in the water and I thought that that was a way to end the tournament.
“I sank the putt and went to the back of the green and saw I was still winning. It was quite a shock. I suppose it was all a bit reminiscent of Jean.”
Of course, at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, Jean Van de Velde squandered a two-shot lead on the 18th when he found the Barry Burn and eventually lost in a playoff. “This is huge for me,” said Gavins. “Zander almost went to last to take him to extra holes, so there’s great relief there with all the joy.”
In the Saudi International on the Asian Tour, Mexican Abraham Ancer shot a 68 for a total of 19 under to defeat American Cameron Young by two strokes. The event, funded by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, saw all LIV Golf players in attendance, with the exception of former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who withdrew with a back injury on the eve of the tournament.
Ancer’s reward was a check for £830,000, with England’s Paul Casey collecting £180.00 for his fifth-place finish at 13-under.