New to the European Tour schedule in 2022, this event takes place in February at the Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah on the North East Coast of the United Arab Emirates. At the time of the tournament’s introduction, the course was no stranger to staging a major golfing event, having hosted the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge in 2016 and 2017, and the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2018. Danish player Nicolai Højgaard put in an impressive display to claim the 2022 edition, posting a score of -20 to come home four shots clear of Englishman Jordan Smith.
Unless the wind gets up, the most challenging aspect of this desert course may be the stifling heat. At 7,325 yards in length, the course features wide fairways and only limited bunker protection. The Paspalum grass greens meanwhile are amongst the most straightforward on the tour. All told, this simple test should hold few fears for the top tournament pros, and any power player able to run hot with the putter is likely to fare well.
|2023||Al Hamra Golf Club||Daniel Gavins|
|2022||Al Hamra Golf Club||Nicolai Hojgaard|
2023: Daniel Gavins
The last leg of the four-week Desert Swing provided a thrilling finale, as 31 year old Englishman Daniel Gavins just about scrambled over the line for a second DP World Tour success. Last winning at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational in 2021, Gavins finished on 17 under par to come home one shot clear of the pack – but the man from Leeds certainly made hard work of it.
Two shots clear heading to the 18th tee should have represented a dream scenario for Gavins. However, it very nearly turned into a nightmare as he found the water not once, but twice on the final hole. With Alexander Bjork bogeying the last ahead of him, Gavins found himself faced with a 25-foot double bogey putt to hold onto the lead. In it went, and Gavins headed to the clubhouse only needing to avoid an Eagle from overnight leader Zander Lombard. The sweat wasn’t quite over, as Lombard found the fringe of the green with his second shot on the par-five, only to just miss his eagle putt from 24ft.
An excellent few day’s work in the end for Gavins who claimed €311,954.42 for his efforts and moved to 7th in the Race to Dubai Rankings. Björk and Lombard finished in a tie for second, with Adiam Meronk and Thorbjørn Olsen a shot further back in joint fourth.
2022: Nicolai Hojgaard
Nicolai Hojgaard has been marked out as one of the future stars of European golf – alongside twin brother Rasmus – for some time. It was, therefore, a timely boost for the game in Europe that the 20 year old Dane won his second DP World Tour in the same week that so many stars of the game were enticed to play in the controversial Saudi International.
When you watch Hojgaard play the first thing that stands out is the incredible distance he gets with his driver. He averaged 322 yards off the tee at Al Hamra Golf Club. Couple that with approach play that saw him gain 1.64 strokes on the field and it’s no surprise that Hojgaard was in contention. Perhaps the most impressive element of the win, however, was the way he recovered from a mistake in the final round that saw him yield a three-shot overnight lead and fall two shots behind Jordan Smith.
Most young golfers would have crumbled under the pressure but not Hojgaard. There was no sign of a collapse as he followed a four-hole stretch that included a bogey and a double-bogey with a birdie and an eagle in consecutive holes. That resulted in a closing round 68, for a total of -24 which was four shots better than Smith.