Daniel Gavins is the defending champion at this week's Ras Al Khaimah Championship

Gavins gears up for title defence at Ras Al Khaimah

Daniel Gavins hopes that returning to a happy hunting ground can lead to an upturn in form as he prepares to defend his Ras Al Khaimah Championship title at Al Hamra Golf Club.

The Leeds-born pro claimed his second DP World Tour victory in dramatic circumstances last year as he found the water twice on the 72nd hole, and then made a double-bogey putt from nearly 27 feet to win by one stroke from Alexander Björk and Zander Lombard.

But Gavins, whose maiden DP World Tour win came in Northern Ireland in 2021, has since gone without a top ten and ended last season out of form amid a run of missed cuts. “(Arriving here) it was a little bit mixed because I’m coming in not feeling overly happy with my game,” he said of his emotions at returning to defend his title. “But I got back here, played a few holes and I started hitting it quite nicely, so it’s great to be back.”

Daniel Gavins held on to win the Ras al Khaimah Championship in 2023

Gavins faces stiff competition this week from a field which includes a resurgent Li Haotong, who has started his 2024 Race to Dubai campaign in fine fashion with a T14 finish at the Dubai Invitational and a share of seventh place at last week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic. The Chinese player believes that hard work during the winter break has paid dividends and he will go in search of a fourth DP World Tour victory this week. The 28-year-old also has fond memories of Al Hamra after finishing T3 at this tournament’s first edition in 2022.

Also teeing it up is Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard, who is looking to join his twin brother Nicolai on this event’s roll of honour after Nicolai claimed the title in 2022. Rasmus finished the 2023 season with an 11th placed finish at the DP World Tour Championship and he has matched that result at each of his two starts at the start of 2024, with a share of 11th at both events held in Dubai.

Among the other notable players in the field are fellow DP World Tour winners Thorbjørn Olesen and Pablo Larrazábal, while rising star Alex Fitzpatrick also tees it up alongside three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington and Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjørn.