Rayhan Thomas’ sensational bid to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) fell short by two shots on Sunday, but he will have the consolation of leaving from Singapore with the Silver Medal.
At Sentosa Golf Club’s New Tanjong course, the 18-year-old Indian, who is born and brought up in the UAE and learned all his golf in the emirates, shot a final-round four-under par 66 to finish joint runner-up at 11-under par 269 behind champion Takumi Kanaya of Japan.
It was a remarkable comeback for the 2014 Emirates Golf Federation Order of Merit champion who started the tournament in disastrous fashion with a four-over par 74 and was well outside the cutline.
But over the next 54 holes, Thomas made just two bogeys and 17 birdies to zoom up the leaderboard with rounds of 64, 65 and 66. It was the best-ever finish by an Indian player in the decade-long championship, bettering the tied ninth place by Khalin Joshi in 2010.
Thomas may not have got a dream invitation to the Masters Tournament and a spot at the Open Championship that goes out to the champion, but he will have the consolation of playing one of the Open Final Qualifying events of his choice.
“One thing I definitely learned from this week is that you can’t win championship of this level after starting with a four-over round,” said Thomas.
“Irrespective of my score, I loved every moment of this great championship and I am glad that I have the chance to come back again next year knowing that I have the ability to win it.
“The one thing I was really proud about was that I did not give up after that start. I tried my best, and this is the result I have.
“It also tells me that I have been right when I kept feeling that I have been playing really well these last few weeks, starting from the Asian Games. I just need to trust what I have with my swing right now and I am sure we will have some more good results in the near future.”
The tournament is organized by The Masters and the R&A in association with the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation. It is now one of the five ‘Elite’ events on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.