Daniel Gavins celebrates dramatic final-hole DP Tour win by playing the drums
Just when Daniel Gavins seemed to be in full, excruciating implosion and on his way to blowing a three-shot lead down the last in the style of Jean val de Velde, so the Yorkshireman produced one of the gutsiest putts the DP World Tour will ever witness to seal a first piece of silverware since 2021.
It appeared all so simple for Gavins, the world No 298, when he stepped on to the final tee at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He had been locked in a tussle with Alexander Bjork all day but when the Swede, playing in the group ahead, bogeyed the par-five 18th, Gavins had a substantial advantage. With only one bogey on a scorecard lit up by six birdies, his second title was surely a formality.
And even when he sliced his drive into the water on the 586-yarder, he still had breathing space. Playing three off the tee, he hit the fairway and from there he only needed to get on the green in two more and he would still have two putts for the £280,000 first prize.
Yet with his mind scrambling, Gavins went for it and watched in despair as it again leaked right into a watery grave. Now playing six, he chipped up to 26 feet and looking on, Bjork prepared for a play-off.
Except Gavins astonishingly holed it for a 68 and 17-under total. There was a clenched fist, but no wild celebration - perhaps mindful that in behind Zander Lombard could force sudden death with an eagle - but very soon he was toasting a one-shot victory.
After finding the water twice, @DanielGavins makes a 26ft putt for the clubhouse lead! #RakGolfChamps pic.twitter.com/8VeJh7CuSd
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) February 5, 2023
“I’m speechless, to be honest,” he said. "I've been struggling off the tee the last two weeks and it's not a very nice tee shot to have on 18.
"It was a difficult hole to get through and to be fair I thought I was holing that putt for a play-off. I didn't realise Bjork had made bogey. I'd put two in the water and I thought that's one way to end the tournament.
“I sunk 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. I suppose it was all threatening to be 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 finding the Barry Burn and eventually lost in a play-off. “This is huge for me,” Gavins said. “Zander almost eagled the last to take it to extra holes so there’s great relief in there with all the joy.”
Gavins' afternoon in the desert became stranger still when he saw the band Problem Child setting up for the after-tournament party and the 31-year-old asked if he could have a go on the drums. "I'm a keen drummer and was happy they allowed me," he said. "All in all, it's been a wonderful day."
In the Saudi International on the Asian Tour, Mexican Abraham Ancer shot a 68 for a 19-under total to beat American Cameron Young by two strokes. The event, funded by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, featured all the LIV Golf players, with the exception of former world No 1 Dustin Johnson who pulled out on the eve of the tournament with a back complaint.
Ancer’s reward was a cheque for £830,000, with England’s Paul Casey picking up £180,00 for finishing fifth on 13-under.