[PHOTO: Warren Little]
A win is a win is a win. But Daniel Gavins is likely to remember his second career victory on the DP World Tour just a bit differently than any other he’ll ever have in his life, having thought for sure he had blown it.
The 31-year-old from England started the final round of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship two strokes behind South Africa’s Zander Lombard, but made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch at Al Hamra Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates to jump to the lead. Gavins started the back nine two shots ahead and was up by three over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork while standing on the 18th tee.
While at that moment, it seemed like Gavins’ day, the truth was he had been dealing with a bad back that limited his practice early in the week. The 296th-ranked player in the world had also been fighting his driver, which made his choice of using it off the tee on the 527-metre, par-5 home hole a bit surprising. And it became an issue when he pumped his tee ball into the water right of the fairway.
Gavin re-teed and put his third shot in the fairway, looking to salvage the hole and add a second title to his 2021 ISPS Handa World Invitational. But then with his fourth shot, a 3-wood from 262 metres, he once again hit a fade that wouldn’t stop fading.
Another in the penalty area, and now Gavins looked like he was a goner. He took another drop and played his sixth shot from about 15 metres, leaving the ball 30 feet short of the hole. Then his attempt for double bogey did this.
If you’re wondering why Gavins wasn’t more excited when the putt fell, we’ll let him explain.
“That’s what I thought I’d, [blown it]. I put two in the water and I thought that’s what kind of makes the end of the tournament, really. And I made the putt and went to the back of the green and saw I was actually winning still. That was a big shock.”
"I just want to thank my family, they've supported me throughout my career."
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) February 5, 2023
The double gave Gavins a three-under 69 for the day and a 17-under 271 total, but he had to wait to watch Lombard finish the last hole, having opened the door for an an eagle 3 from the overnight leader to force a playoff. Lombard hit the green in two but missed a 24-foot putt, making a birdie that gave him a share of second place but ultimately allowing Gavins to walk away with his memorable win.