Gavins claims maiden European Tour title at World Invitational

By Sports Desk August 01, 2021

Daniel Gavins was left speechless after claiming his maiden European Tour title at the World Invitational.

The 30-year-old from Leeds was seven shots behind leader Jordan Smith heading into the final day at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena.

But as Smith faltered – going four over for the day – Gavins carded a bogey-free 65 to get to 13 under for the tournament.

Gavins, who had never previously achieved a top-10 finish, holed two putts of over 50 feet on the back nine as he matched his second-round score – he had also signed for a 66 on Saturday - to storm into contention.

David Horsey appeared set to deny him victory, however, only to falter after the turn. He had two bogeys and a double bogey to card a 72, leaving him one adrift on 12 under. 

Gavins' triumph was all the more remarkable considering he had contemplated missing the event to rest ahead of a busy schedule on the Challenge Tour.

"I can't believe it; I was seven behind going into the last round. I'm speechless," he told Sky Sports Golf.

"I was a little nervous before. I just tried to shoot as low as I could today. At seven behind, I didn't really think I was within a chance of winning.

"I've been playing well. I was going to have the week off because I knew there were a lot of Challenge Tour events coming up.

"I just can't believe it, I don’t think it's sunk in. It'll take a while to sink in, but what an amazing day."

Having led overnight at 15 under, Smith was forced to settle for a share of third place, finishing up alongside Alejandro Canizares, Masahiro Kawamura and Daniel Hillier.

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    Laurie Canter powered three shots clear at the Andalucia Masters to put himself within touching distance of completing a €1million season on the European Tour.

    The 31-year-old Englishman finished tied for second at the BMW PGA Championship in September, and now a maiden victory on the tour is a realistic target.

    A roller coaster four-under-par 67 in the third round allowed Canter to ease clear of the field and reach seven under through 54 holes, with Matt Fitzpatrick in second place after a one-under 70.

    Canter had eight birdies and four dropped shots in his round, but the score of the day was achieved by American David Lipsky, who shrugged off a bogey at the first and went on to make eight birdies on the way to a 64, seven under par.

    That put Lipsky on three under overall, in third place, with organisers stating his efforts matched the lowest round in the tournament's history, previously achieved in 2017 by Daniel Brooks and in 2018 by Sergio Garcia.

    Canter, who hails from Bath, will be wary of players behind him shooting such a low score on Sunday, but he will have few better chances to win a tournament.

    In 2019, Canter played just five events on the tour and won a mere €11,059, but two runner-up finishes last year put him in a far healthier position with €498,991 in earnings, and now Canter is close to breaking the seven-figure mark in a season for the first time.

    The €485,000 on offer to the winner at Valderrama on Sunday would send Canter soaring through that mark, and he likes the look of his cushion.

    "I think what it means is I can go out tomorrow and play how I have these last couple of days," Canter said, quoted on the European Tour website.

    "The score I end up on will be competitive, I think. That gives me a lot of confidence going in. The course is asking a lot of different challenges and you can’t dwell when it goes against you. I’m trying to stay as level as I can and I’m doing a good job."

    Those in the five-player group on two under will remain hopeful of a Sunday surge, and among them is the halfway leader Romain Langasque. The Frenchman went backwards on Saturday after a disappointing 73, but may not be out of contention.

    Alongside Langasque in a share of fourth place is Austrian Ryder Cup player Bernd Wiesberger, plus Min Woo Lee of Australia, Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg and Italy's Renato Paratore.

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    Keith Mitchell built a commanding five-shot lead entering the weekend following another impressive round at The CJ Cup.

    Mitchell carded an eight-par-under 64 to soar to the top of the leaderboard after the second round in Nevada on Friday.

    The one-time PGA Tour champion dazzled with a first-round 62 and the American backed that up by holing an eagle, seven birdies and just one bogey.

    Mitchell is the player to beat at the halfway stage after setting a new tournament 36-hole record at 18 under.

    "I spent a lot of time in the last few days leading up to this tournament working hard on my game and it's showing," said Mitchell, whose lone victory came at the 2019 Honda Classic.

    "I'm very thankful for that. Just shows you that hard work pays off as long as you're doing the right things."

    Former world number one Jordan Spieth (65), Kim Seong-hyeon (63), Harry Higgs (67) and Adam Scott (63) are Mitchell's nearest challengers at 13 under heading into Saturday's penultimate round.

    Spieth made his move late in the day with four birdies in five holes to earn a share of second position, while another former world number one – Scott – enjoyed a red-hot finish to his day after going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-par-birdie-eagle in his last seven holes.

    Scott's second round included a career-high 14 one putts, having played the final seven holes eight under – his best seven-hole stretch to close a round on Tour.

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    American star Brooks Koepka lost ground following his two-under-par 70 which left him seven under, while Dustin Johnson bounced back from his opening-round 74 with a 66.

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    Romain Langasque sits top of the Andalucia Masters leaderboard heading into the weekend after a solid opening two days, while world number one Jon Rahm missed the cut.

    The Real Club Valderrama lived up to its infamous reputation as an often-gruelling course a day earlier, with numerous players highlighting the difficulty posed by the windy conditions.

    Few struggled like Rahm on home soil as the Spaniard carded a seven-over 78 on what was the worst European Tour round of his career, leaving him 11 shots adrift of overnight leader Julien Guerrier, who was one clear of recent Open de Espana champion Rafa Cabrera Bello on three under.

    It was all change for Guerrier and Cabrera Bello on Friday, though, as they went two and three over par respectively for the round.

    Rahm dropped three more shots to leave him 10 over for the tournament and heading home early.

    Matt Fitzpatrick looked to have stormed to the front of the pack and held the lead before the 18th, but like Guerrier before him, he closed with a double bogey that left him as one of four on three under for the week alongside Laurie Canter, Ryan Fox and Sebastian Soderberg.

    Canter was the star of the show, however, enjoying the round of the tournament so far.

    His six-under 65 on Friday, which was two shots better than anyone managed the previous day, might have been even better had he avoided a bogey on the 16th.

    "The perfectionist in me would like to have played the final three holes better, it sort of took me out of the flow I was in to be honest," he told the European Tour after.

    "But up until then it was probably the best 15 holes of golf I've played on tour. I've had lower scores, but in terms of control of the golf ball on a difficult course and quite challenging conditions, certainly on the front nine, it was really, really good.

    "On the front nine, I really didn't miss a shot. A couple of holes we deliberately played away from, trying to hit it to 20-25 feet.

    "I think the pins were more generous than yesterday, but even so I was obviously delighted to go out in five under, which is great around here."

    But it is Langasque who takes a slender one-shot lead into Saturday, with his four-under score for the tournament coming from two rounds of 69, the latest of which including just one bogey and 15 pars as his consistency on the day paid dividends.

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