06 Mar 2017

Rayhan Thomas: One step at a time for 17 year old

Rayhan Thomas has had a fairytale season which has seen him outscore Tiger Woods, make the cut in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and top the Junior Presidents Cup standings. This is just the beginning for the 17-year-old Dubai-based amateur who has superior targets in his scope with The Indian Open just around the corner – another opportunity to prove that he can mix it with the elite.


Worldwide Golf: You made the cut and finished tied-60th in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, this surely defied your expectations – give us your thoughts on that experience?

Rayhan Thomas: It was a fantastic experience for me. I was born and raised here in the UAE so just to take part in this prestigious event and play in front of the home fans was really special.

WWG: Having missed the cut by five in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship the week before, did you feel more relaxed in the Desert Classic after this maiden professional event?

Rayhan Thomas: Yeah, I sure did. Obviously, it is quite intimidating to compete in a European Tour event, especially when you are not one of the pros yet, but I felt more comfortable as I went along. The Abu Dhabi experience was great and I learnt so much from it.

WWG: What was the experience like of playing in the same event as Tiger Woods (and outscoring him by nine shots)? Did you have any contact with him?

Rayhan Thomas: I couldn’t make any contact with him at Emirates Golf Club but he was my idol growing up. I have watched every single Major that he played in. Everything he has done for the game is huge. Whether or not I beat him by nine shots, doesn’t change the fact that he is the one and only Tiger Woods.

WWG: You and Curtis Luck both did brilliantly well as amateurs, did it feel good to have another young amateur sharing the pressure with you?

Rayhan Thomas: It was definitely a plus. Curtis is a very experienced amateur who has already done lots in the game like when he won the U.S. Amateur. He is actually another idol of mine. I look up to him and he motivates me to do better.

WWG: Have you made any good friends on Tour from your time competing in the Desert Swing?

Rayhan Thomas: I get along well with some of the golfers who come from my country such as S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri. I played with Michael Lorenzo-Vera, who is a really nice guy. Hopefully, if he is there in the Indian Open I will get to see him.

WWG: On the subject of the Indian Open, how did that come about and give us your thoughts on playing on the European Tour in a country very close to your heart?

Rayhan Thomas: Obviously, India is home for me so I can’t wait to compete there. I am an Indian passport holder so this tournament will be another huge honour to play in. I managed to get an entry by sending an email to the Indian Golf Union and they were happy to accept me, so hopefully I can do them proud in the tournament.

WWG: Has anything changed for you since competing in these events? Do you get recognised more away from the course?

Rayhan Thomas: Yeah, I probably do a bit more actually. Being the centre of attention is it not something I am ever going to be complaining about!

WWG: Did you sign any autographs?

Rayhan Thomas: (Laughs) No, I am not quite at that stage yet! But when I am on the course the spectators took a couple of pictures with me, so that was great.



WWG: You’re competing in the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup in September, are you looking forward to playing Match Play and being captained by Trevor Immelman?  

Rayhan Thomas: I don’t want to count my chickens before they’ve hatched, but it would be awesome if I did manage to earn a spot and play under the leadership of Trevor Immelman. To be in the first ever Junior Presidents Cup would be something else, something in the history books for me.

WWG: What do you think you have to do this season to make sure that you cement that place?

Rayhan Thomas: I will just keep doing what I have been doing. I just need to stay focused and be consistent.

WWG: Have these excellent performances in the Tour events swayed your decision at all on when you’d like to turn professional – what’s your plan for the next few years?

Rayhan Thomas: Not at all. I’ve got my mind set on what I want to do. When I graduate from school I will decide if I want to go to college or turn pro but it is not a decision that I would want to rush into for sure.


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