Daniel Gavins had a two-shot lead when he stepped on the 18th tee Sunday afternoon at Al Hamra Golf Club. Up ahead, Alexander Bjork would bogey the par-5 finishing hole to stretch Gavins’ advantage to three. If Gavins could avoid the water that runs along the entire right side of the hole, the Ras Al Khaimah Championship would be his.
Spoiler alert: He did not avoid the water.
Not once, in fact, but twice.
Yet, thanks to a clutch make for double bogey, Gavins, a 31-year-old Englishman, was somehow able to hang on for a one-shot victory, his second on the DP World Tour.
“It was a difficult hole to kind of get through,” Gavins said.
He barely got through Wednesday. Gavins didn’t play a practice round because of a back injury, but he was able to play his first 54 holes in 14 under and put himself in position for a Sunday charge, which came in the form of six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 2-8.
With the lead twosome of Rasmus Hojgaard and Zander Lombard combining to shoot 1 over on the day, Gavins was 5 under through 17 holes to take what many thought was a comfortable lead. But admittedly, Gavins had been struggling off the tee all day, and when he teed off on the final hole, he left his driver face wide open.
After re-teeing and finding the fairway, Gavins remained aggressive, going for the green with 3-wood from 286 yards out. Once again, club face wide open.
“I put two in the water, and I thought, you know, that’s one way to end the tournament,” Gavins said.
Gavins took a penalty drop in some decent rough about 50 yards shy of the green and pitched it 27 feet short. In the moment, Gavins was apparently spinning because he said later that he had no idea Bjork had bogeyed ahead of him.
“I thought I was hole-ing that for the playoff,” Gavins said. “When I holed the putt and went to the back of the green and saw that I was actually winning still, it was kind of a big shock.”
Full-field scores from the Ras Al Khaimah Championship
Gavins is in his fifth season on the DPWT, but he’s never made it to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. After winning the 2021 ISPS Handa World Invitational, he finished that season No. 69 in the Race to Dubai.
Even with some unnecessary drama, Sunday’s triumph bumped Gavins to seventh in points, extra meaningful these days considering this season marks the first time that 10 PGA Tour cards will be offered to top finishers in the Race to Dubai.
“That’s great,” Gavins said when told that. “But there’s a lot of golf left to be played.”