2024 Ras Al Khaimah Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
The likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton may have departed from the scene but the DP World Tour’s Middle East Swing continues with Daniel Gavins defending the Ras Al Khaimah Championship he won 12 months ago.
And he is joined by strong field that includes fellow DP World Tour winners Rasmus Hojgaard and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Last year, Gavins won his second DP World Tour title in dramatic circumstances as he claimed victory by a single stroke after a double bogey on the 72nd and final hole. The Englishman had a three-stroke lead on the 18th tee but found the water twice on the daunting closing hole, however he held his nerve on the green as he made a 25-foot putt to take the title.
“It was fantastic to win my second DP World Tour title in Ras Al Khaimah, but I would have liked for it to have been less stressful,” he said. “I’m really pleased with how I kept my composure and made that putt on the last, it’s a moment I’ll always remember and it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Four-time DP World Tour winner Rasmus will be looking to follow in his twin brother Nicolai’s footsteps when he tees it up in Ras Al Khaimah, after Nicolai won the inaugural edition of the tournament. Nicolai made his Ryder Cup debut last year, won the DP World Tour Championship and will be spending the bulk of 2024 plying his trade on the PGA Tour after gaining one of the 10 cards handed out at the end of last season.
And Rasmus definitely wants a piece of that action. “You want to win every time you play a tournament, and my brother and I are very competitive, so it would be special to see both of our names on the same trophy,” he said. “I really feel as though I had an opportunity to win last year, so I’m hoping to make amends when I return to Al Hamra.”
Olesen will be teeing up in search of an eighth DP World Tour win and will arrive at Al Hamra buoyed by his tied fourth finish in the event last year and on the back of his best season for some time. The Dane has had consecutive winning years on the DP World Tour and he ended the season ninth on last year’s Race to Dubai Rankings, his second-highest career finish. And he has continued that fine form in 2024.
“I always enjoy starting my season in the UAE, so I’m excited to return to Ras Al Khaimah,” said Olesen. “Al Hamra is a great venue and it’s a course I felt very comfortable on earlier this year. I’m looking forward to going back.”
Dan Bradbury, Alex Fitzpatrick, Yannik Paul and Jordan Smith will also be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
The big-hitting Bradbury, who enjoyed an outstanding debut season in 2023, is looking forward to progressing further in 2024 after finishing 36th in his maiden year on the Race to Dubai.
“I enjoy playing golf in the Middle East so I’m excited to head back to Ras Al Khaimah,” he said.
There will be considerable interest in the progress of Fitzpatrick, who earned his playing privileges through a combination of the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca and strong performances in limited starts on the DP World Tour, including a tie for 17th in The Open at Royal Liverpool.
The younger brother of former US Open champion Matt, he said: “There was quite a lot of pressure last year because I felt like I had to play well in the limited opportunities I got to play, so it’s quite nice now to be able to plan my schedule a bit more. It’s always nice to go out to the Middle East.” Fitzpatrick is a hugely underrated golfer and it would come as no surprise to yours truly to see him make his breakthrough in 2024.
Paul, who won the 2022 Mallorca Golf Open, is also looking to build on a strong 2023 which included two runner-up finishes and five other top tens. And he was also in the mix at the Dubai Invitational, where he showed that he has the game to go head to head with McIlroy.
“I felt like I played some good golf last season, particularly in the first part of the year, so hopefully I can keep doing that."
Two-time DP World Tour winner Smith knows Al Hamra Golf Club well, having won the Challenge Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah, 2016 Golf Challenge, and always enjoys returning to a place where he’s enjoyed previous success.
“That victory in 2016 effectively secured the number one spot on the Challenge Tour Rankings for me, so I’ll always enjoy going back to Al Hamra,” Smith said. “This event, in addition to Bahrain, will be a really fun part of the schedule and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
The inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Championship was won in 2022 by Nicolai Hojgaard and last year by Daniel Gavins.
Alex Fitzpatrick showed a remarkable level of consistency throughout 2023 and has a happy knack of scoring well on tricky golf courses. Rasmus Hojgaard is desperate to join his twin brother Nicolai on the PGA Tour and that is certain to give him the added motivation to emulate Nicolai’s win here two years ago.
Al Hamra Golf Club was designed by the legendary Peter Harradine. It is a par 72 measuring 7,325 yards. It is tree-lined and features many water hazards. The key to low scoring here is accuracy from the tee.
Rasmus Hojgaard. Desperate to emulate his twin
Thorbjorn Olesen. Has found consistency
Alex Fitzpatrick. Another with a brother who inspires him
Five to Follow:
Rasmus Hojgaard. Proven winner
Thorbjorn Olesen. Great short game
Alex Fitzpatrick. Could be as a good as Matt
Yannik Paul. Does everything really well
Dan Bradbury. Hugely impressive ball striker
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Ockie Strydom. Underrated South African
Sean Crocker. Has all the tools
Hurly Long. Big-hitting German
Oliver Wilson. Something of an enigma
Tom McKibbin. Hasn’t really kicked on yet
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