Hits and misses from a thrilling Ras Al Khaimah Championship

Daniel Gavins holds on for victory after four days of nail-biting drama at Al Hamra

Powered by automated translation

The DP World Tour’s UAE swing reached a thrilling conclusion in Ras Al Khaimah on Sunday evening. Here are the highs and lows from the past four days in the northern emirate.

Champion – Daniel Gavins

The 31-year-old Englishman has had to bear quite a burden in the 18 months since his first – and, until now, only – win on the DP World Tour.

“I just want to quickly thank my mum and dad – I forgot to thank them last time when I won,” Gavins said in his TV interview after sealing victory.

They would have been having palpitations watching him try to close out the 2023 Ras Al Khaimah Championship. The drama of the finish will have made his one-stroke victory taste all the sweeter, though.

They said it

Adrian Meronk: "I found a random chair at the range and started using it. It is a little bit short though, but it does the job.”

Meronk was spotted balancing a plastic garden chair against his backside while hitting iron shots at the practice range. Seeing as he stands 6ft 5in tall, it is probably no surprise the chair was just that little bit too small to suit his needs perfectly.

Ryan Fox: “It’s a lot tougher this year. Feels like the fairways are almost impossible to hit in places. I think we [his first-round playing partners were Victor Perez and Nicolai Hojgaard] hit 10 as a group and felt like we drove it OK.”

Fox won the last time the DP World Tour had a tournament – the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, seven days after the Championship event – at Al Hamra, at the start of a campaign that saw him go on to win the 2022 Seve Ballesteros Award. The New Zealander said the challenge was trickier this time around.

Daniel Gavins: “To be fair, I thought I was holing that for the play-off.”

Gavins feared he had thrown the tournament away when he dunked two shots into the water that runs all the way up the right-hand side of the 18th on the final evening. Lucky for him, though, he sank the long putt that gave him a double-bogey seven, and kept him one shot ahead of Alexander Bjork at the top of the leaderboard.

Best shots

Meronk, Day 1, Hole 14, third shot

The UAE-based Pole was not once on the fairway while playing the 582-yard par-5 14th, and neither did he spend much time on the green. In the rough after his tee shot, he hit to the bunker in front of the green, and promptly holed for an eagle.

Nicolai Hojgaard, Day 2, Hole 18, second shot

As the defending champion heading in to this week, it was clear the 21-year-old Dane knows his way around Al Hamra.

Playing the last on Day 2, his long approach was inches away from bouncing in for an albatross. He ended the hole with a birdie 4.

Nicolai Hojgaard, Day 3, Hole 12, second shot

Having just missed out on holing from the fairway at the last a day earlier, the holder went one better at the par-4 12th.

Having found A1 position with his tee shot, he drained his second from 127 yards for eagle. It took him into a share of the lead at 13-under.

Gavins, Day 4, Hole 18, seventh shot

Rarely will a putt to make double-bogey have felt so sweet. Over the course of the preceding 71 holes, the Englishman had positioned himself well to carry off his second tour title. He held a two-stroke lead on the tee. Then it all threatened to unravel as he fired two balls into the water.

His seventh shot was a 26-foot putt. He drained it. Given Bjork, in the match ahead, had made bogey, it meant the title was his, as soon as Zander Lombard failed to make eagle.

Worst shots

Rasmus Hojgaard, Day 2, Hole 17, first shot

The Danish twins have made an adventure of tugging long shots left in the UAE over the past week or so. At the Dubai Desert Classic, Nicolai fired an approach at 18 into a hospitality box, and had it retrieved by a waiter.

At the par-4 17th in RAK, his brother Rasmus fired his tee shot way left – but had a reprieve when it bounced back into play off a floodlight. He made par from there.

Zander Lombard, Day 3, Hole 8, third shot

The South African held the lead at the end of moving day, aided by a birdie at the 8th. It came about by remarkable means. From the fringe of the green, he first fluffed his chip totally. Faced with an almost identical shot to follow up, he holed it.

Gavins, Day 4, Hole 18, first shot

Gavins had birdied the 18th on the other three occasions he had played it this week. He had a two-shot lead playing his 72nd hole. Crazy what the pressure of trying to close out the biggest win of his career could do, though. First, he fired his tee shot way right and into the water …

Gavins, Day 4, Hole 18, fourth shot

… his second go off the tee landed on dry land, but he got the jitters over what was now his fourth shot. That, too, landed in the drink, bouncing off the rocks short and right of the green. All of which made for some astonishing late drama.

Updated: February 06, 2023, 2:34 AM