Teen ace Thomas makes history on the MENA Tour
Teen golf ace, becomes first amateur winner on MENA Tour
Rayhan Thomas, remember the name. He’s only 16, but the Dubai golfer created history yesterday by becoming the first amateur to win a tournament on the MENA Golf Tour.
The Indian national came through a play-off against England’s Luke Joy to secure the Dubai Creek Open trophy, the MENA Golf Tour’s landmark 50th event.
He said: “I am really delighted. Winning the 50th event of the tour and on my home course made it special.”
Rayhan Thomas created history by becoming the first amateur to win a MENA Golf Tour event when he claimed the Dubai Creek Open in a play-off yesterday.
Starting the day tied for the lead with England’s Jake Shepherd on 10-under, Dubai-based Thomas closed with a 69 to reach 12-under for the tournament, forcing a play-off with England’s Luke Joy, who returned a five-under 66.
Thomas bogeyed the first extra hole, the 18th, while Joy had to settle for a double bogey after hitting his approach from the bunker into the water, the play-off drama providing a fitting climax to the tour’s 50th event.
“I am really delighted with my efforts. Winning it in the 50th event of the tour and too on my home course made it special,” said Thomas after receiving the winner’s trophy.
Thomas, who finished runner-up to Shepherd last year, insisted taking a relaxed attitude into the final round worked wonders. He added: “I was pretty calm out there and focused on one shot at a time.
“The only anxious moment I had was at the 18th when my approach shot the rocks, nearly ending up in the water, but I managed to save par to get into the play-off. Overall, I played steady golf and holed some nice putts, including one for birdie on the 15th from about 12 feet. It feels nice to get the job done this time around.”
England’s Joy, sitting third overnight at seven-under, staged a compelling fightback, but a wayward drive on the first extra hole that landed in a bunker cost him the title.
“The lie was pretty bad. I had just five per cent chance of getting over the water. I couldn’t,” said Joy, who won the Dubai Creek Open in 2014.
Playing on a special invitation from Darren Clarke, the patron of the MENA Golf Tour, Australia’s Benjamnin Eccles produced the highlight of the day, firing a sizzling eight-under 63 to match the course record, jointly held by Lee Westwood and Clarke himself.
Playing in his first MENA Golf Tour event, Australia’s Eccles made his presence felt.
“It is an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as Ryder Cup captain Clarke and Lee Westwood in some corner of the world,” said the 21-yearold from Melbourne.
The MENA Golf Tour now moves to Al Badia Golf Club for the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open starting on Monday.