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.

David Horsey bolted out of the blocks on day one of the Saudi International at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, with his nine-under 61 securing a one-shot lead.

Horsey had missed the cut in his previous two events but enjoyed an emphatic return to form in Saudi Arabia, where world number one Dustin Johnson carded a 67.

The Englishman boasted an unblemished scorecard, though it was his back nine that attracted most of the glory.

Seven of his nine birdies came after the turn, and an eagle on the par-five 18th would have secured him only the second 59 in European Tour history.

He fell short of that achievement but was no less taken aback by his performance, partly putting his improvement down to a telephone chat with a friend back at home on the eve of the tournament.

"It's a shock actually," he is quoted as saying by the European Tour website. "I've been playing rubbish the last couple weeks. Didn't feel like I controlled my ball the first two events.

"I had a conversation with a pal back home last night, talking a few things through and he suggested something that I work on away from the tournament.

"Knowing me, I thought, well, [I] can't get any worse, so I may as well try it and here we are. It's really just how my body is moving – quite sort of technical really. It's nice to have a feel you can wake up and pick up straight away.

"I didn't really feel like I missed many shots. I holed a couple of nice, lengthy putts as well and it all adds up to 61."

While Horsey was undoubtedly grateful to rein in his patchy recent form, he is now saddled with an entirely different form of pressure at the top of the leaderboard.

Stephen Gallacher is breathing down his neck having gone around in 62, his best ever opening-round score, and the Scot – who won two of his four European Tour titles in the Middle East – is relishing his golf after a difficult 2020 all round.

"It was just draw a line in the sand for 2020," he said. "With everything that happened: the pandemic, [death of] my dad, losing friends, it was just one of those terrible years.

"I couldn't wait for 2021 to come really and get back to a bit of normal - back playing and back enjoying it.

"I worked hard in the winter in the gym and on my net in the house, and came out early and showed a bit of form early doors. 2020, just erase it from my memory and look forward now to 2021."

Bernd Wiesberger is another shot back and then there are six tied for fourth on five under, including 2020 U.S. Open champions Bryson DeChambeau.

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