Daniel Gavins hopes to rekindle his winning form at a happy hunting ground as he prepares to defend the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics title.
The Englishman stormed through the field on the final day last year, carding a bogey-free 65 to come from seven strokes back and secure his maiden DP World Tour title at the innovative event played at both Galgorm Castle and Massereene Golf Clubs.
The event is tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour, with men’s and women’s tournaments played on the same courses at the same time for two equal prize funds of US$1.5million. Competitors will each play one round at Galgorm Castle and Massereene Golf Clubs on Thursday and Friday, with the final two rounds of action taking place at Galgorm.
There will be a cut in both tournaments to the leading 60 professionals and ties after the second round and then a further cut after the third round to the leading 30 professionals and ties in each event. On all four tournament days, groups at both courses will alternate between male and female competitors.
Galgorm Castle Golf Club has a long history of hosting professional golf events, starting with the Galgorm Castle Northern Ireland Open on the EuroPro Tour in 2011 – the tournament then became a Challenge Tour event in 2013. This is the third edition of the ISPS HANDA World Invitational – the first was played in 2019, won by Jack Senior on the men’s side and Stephanie Meadow in the women’s competition.
Headlining the women’s field is Irish star Leona Maguire, who is playing competitively in front of home fans for the first time since becoming the first Irishwoman to win on the LPGA Tour. She is joined in the field by 2018 AIG Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall and defending ISPS HANDA World Invitational champion Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand.
Daniel Gavins: “I was quite a distance behind, so I wasn’t under pressure in a way. I just went out and tried to make as many birdies as possible. I got a few early on and then a few nice putts were holed. I built up and built up and saw on the 17th I was nearly in the lead.
“I played the 18th like I had done all week, as a three-shotter, and thought, let’s see what happens. I saw the last groups coming in. It was windy and they were falling back a bit. I saw on 18th he was three off the tee and couldn’t quite make par. It was nice to get the first win.
“I’ve been playing nicely, and last week I felt like my game was really nice. I just need to stay patient, but it’s hard in this game. You just want to do well every week. I just want to enjoy it again. I’m not enjoying it as much as I was at the start of the year. I think that’s the main thing for me, coming in and enjoying it a bit more, taking away the pressure of doing well, taking each week as it comes and keep it going that way.”
Jack Senior: “Yeah, it’s always good to come back to somewhere you obviously won. Just get good vibes as soon as you arrive here really.
“I’ve had some really, really good weeks this year and it’s just not quite happened on a weekend for me. I seem to have had four or five tournaments where I’ve had three really good rounds and one really poor round. I’ve got to try and address that the best I can. There is no place better than here to maybe address it.”
Pajaree Anannarukarn: “I learned a lot from that day from starting the day with couple birdies and playing good all the way until the sixth hole where I kind of slip on that. But I think I learned a lot from just trying to stay patient and, you know, try to just do your best and remember that it’s not always going to be perfect. Everything is not going to be perfect.
“So as long as you just continue to do your thing and just keep focusing on what you can do, I think being patient and trusting yourself, that’s really important.”
Leona Maguire: “I think it will be a fun week. Nice to play in front of home crowds I guess, and I suppose the nice weather as well is an added bonus, so hopefully be plenty of people out to support this week.
“Played in this event three years ago before it was sanctioned, so nice to go out where it’s a little bit familiar I guess. Both courses are in really good shape, so, yeah, excited for a very different test this week than Muirfield last week.”