Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Rayhan Thomas wants to finish ‘somewhere in the red’ after making cut at Dubai Desert Classic

Rayhan Thomas became only the second UAE-based amateur to make the cut at an Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but did not see any need to celebrate.
Rayhan Thomas has made the cut of a European Tour event at just the third time of asking. David Cannon / Getty Images
Rayhan Thomas has made the cut of a European Tour event at just the third time of asking. David Cannon / Getty Images

DUBAI // Rayhan Thomas became only the second UAE-based amateur to make the cut at an Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but did not see any need to celebrate.

The 17-year-old Indian, playing this week courtesy of his Order of Merit victory on the 2016 Mena Tour, resumed his second round at the storm-affected Emirates Golf Club on Saturday morning, rebounded from three dropped shots in two holes and blitzed through most of his back nine.

As his chances of hanging around for another two days increased with three birdies in five holes from the 13th, so too did the noise from the Dubai resident’s continually swelling support.

In the end, a double bogey on 18 gave Thomas a 75 and left him on one-under par, meaning he sat proudly inside the cut line by two shots.

So a first full European Tour event, in only his third European Tour appearance. As an amateur. Aged 17. No biggie, really.

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“It was awesome to make the cut, but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Thomas said. “Obviously I had two more rounds to play so that was what my mind was on. But pretty happy to make the weekend.”

He went back out as if he was positively ecstatic. After a quick turnaround, Thomas began his third round on the 10th by quickly reeling off four birdies and a bogey, then drove the green on the par-4 17th and watched as his putt for eagle lipped out. Anyway, the birdie lifted him to five-under for the tournament, and at that stage, to within six shots of leader Sergio Garcia.

However, Thomas came back in 41, when a bogey, a double-bogey and a triple halted him in his tracks, so he eventually finished on one-over par in a tie for 54th.

A “few bad swings” had done it, he said. Understandably given the circumstances, fatigue played its part, too.

“Yeah, it’s not easy,” said Thomas, who conceded the extended day’s play had also taken its toll mentally. “Because you have to focus so much on every shot. So when you’re on the back nine and start making a few bad swings it takes it out of you.”

That was most evident on the par-3 7th. Thomas’s tee-shot found the water, and he followed that with a wedge to around 25 feet. From there, he three-putted.

“Just a lack of concentration,” Thomas said.

Yet there is nothing like another crack at it to narrow the focus. Thomas returns on Sunday for his first final round on the European Tour, where he will mix it with the big boys one more time. Although, when asked about his target for Round 4, he sounded like a veritable veteran himself.

“Something in the red,” Thomas said. “If I can get myself back into red figures, I’ll be happy.”

How does he prepare for that, then? Cue that 17-year-old nonchalance.

“Get plenty of rest, go out for dinner, get something to eat,” Thomas said. “And just chill out.”​

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 4, 2017 04:00 AM

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