Red-hot Rayhan leads MENA Golf Tour Challenge at the ‘Classic’


Displaying a maturity level well beyond his years, young Rayhan Thomas fired a sublime four-under 68 to lead the MENA Golf Tour challenge at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.

Starting from the 10th tee alongside senior Indian professionals Anirban Lahiri and SSS Chawrasia, the Dubai-based teenager picked up six birdies, three in each half, and two bogies to finish the day in a tie for eighth, four shots ahead of Australia's Curtis Luck, the other amateur in the field.

"Can't complain after an opening 68," said a delighted Thomas, who made it to the starting field after topping the MENA Golf Tour Order of Merit for amateurs last season.

"I holed a lot of good putts and had a chip-in on the eighth. Just played super solid golf," added the top-ranked Indian amateur, who is playing in his third European Tour event.

"I have as much confidence as the best player in the world, that's for sure. I don't show it, but I do have the confidence. So, I am not too surprised (with my score).

"The atmosphere was just awesome. I think the spectators were just were just unbelievable. They helped me ride the momentum all day. The course is in fabulous shape, and with a little bit of course knowledge, it all came together," who finished the day, one shot ahead of Lahiri and nine off Chawrasia.

"It was great to have my first round in the Dubai Desert Classic with these two guys, the two countrymen. I felt really comfortable and they helped him along the way," said the 17-year-old prodigy, who hails from the southern Indian state of Kerala.

"It would be just awesome to make the cut, but I am not really thinking about it. If I play as well as I did today, I will be fine. The thinking is to stick to my game plan. It worked today, so it will work tomorrow as well," he said.

Should Thomas, who learned the basic rudiments of the game at the Junior Development Programme in Dubai, go on and make the cut, he will become the second UAE-based amateur after Matthew Turner (2009) to achieve the feat in the 'Major of the Middle East.'

Elsewhere, Zane Scotland, a prolific winner on the MENA Golf Tour, settled for a 73 while his fellow professional tour members Craig Hinton (78) and Luke Joy (76) left themself with a mountain to climb in the second round.