The four-week Desert Swing concluded in dramatic fashion as the 2023 DP World Tour season continued to provide compelling viewing until the end. Here is everything you need to know from the Ras Al Khaimah Championship.
Gutsy Gavins wins after extraordinary final-hole finish
The saying goes that good things don’t come easy and that proved the case for Daniel Gavins on Sunday at Al Hamra Golf Club. Holding a two-shot lead at 19 under par on the 18th tee, the Englishman was in control of his destiny and on track for his second DP World Tour title. That outcome appeared even more of a formality when Alexander Björk – playing in the group ahead – bogeyed the par-five closing hole to finish at 16 under par. But Gavins found the water twice at the last to almost throw away his chance of victory, before holing a putt from around 25 feet for a double bogey but the Englishman could not fully celebrate. Third-round leader Zander Lombard still had the chance to force a play-off with an eagle, which nearly materialised as the South African found the fringe at the back of the green in two before narrowly missing his putt from 24 feet. Such was the frenetic nature of the final hole, Gavins did not even realise his putt for a double bogey was to hold the clubhouse lead.
“To be fair, I thought I was holing that for the play-off! I didn't realise Björk had made a bogey,” he said. “I thought I had given the tournament away. I put two in the water and thought 'well that's one way to end the tournament. When I sunk the putt and then went to the back of the green and saw that I was actually winning still, it was kind of a big shock.” The 31-year-old, who first broke into the winner’s circle at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management in 2021, climbs to seventh in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
Hitting the right note
After thanking his parents and girlfriend Sarah-Louise during his post-round victory interview, Gavins then took to the stage of the after-tournament party to play the drums. Celebrating in style!
Fisher buoyed by strong finish
A flawless final-round seven-under-par 65 helped Ross Fisher climb 20 places on the leaderboard into a share of ninth place. The top ten is the Englishman’s first since the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood last March and added to his good memories of playing at Al Hamra Golf Club after finishing runner-up in the Ras al Khaimah Classic last year. Onwards to Singapore, Ross.
Lovely way to sign off the week @AlHamraGolfClub @DPWorldTour. Game felt really good today, managed to find 9 fairways 💪🏻. Worked hard all week on the putting and finally paid off today. Close to a top 10 🤞🏻. Rooting for @DanielGavins to bring it home. Singapore next week ☀️⚡🥵— Ross Fisher (@RossFisher) February 5, 2023
Long shows off brilliant impressions of commentary duo
Hurly Long left both viewers and the commentary box in hysterics as he showed his talent is not restricted to the golf course with some brilliant impersonations. During an in-round interview with Tim Barter, the German offered up his impression of the broadcaster and coach along with former player-turned-commentator John E Morgan. As Barter said himself, Long could well have a future in TV. Cracking stuff, Hurly!
A testing finish
The back nine at Al Hamra Golf Club proved a stern test for the field, with six of the holes after the turn all playing over par across the week. Only the par four 13th and the 14th and 18th - both par fives - played under their number. This week’s collection of the three toughest holes on the Fortinet Threat Score were the par four 12th, par four tenth and par three 17th which yielded only one eagle between them across the four days of competition.
No fear of heights
Ahead of the tournament, Nick Bachem and Todd Clements took unwinding away from the golf course to a new perspective as they took on the Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline, at the Jebel Jais peak. The zipline lasts around three minutes and took the players across deep ravines, canyons and through jagged peaks that lie 1680 metres above sea level. “It was incredible, in terms of the adrenaline and the pure joy…I loved it," Clements said. "I recommend anyone to come up here if they are in the area, it wasn’t anything I was expecting and it far exceeded expectations.” Watch the video below to have a sense of the adrenaline rush the pair might have experienced.