Teen ace Thomas makes his­tory on the MENA Tour

Teen golf ace, be­comes first am­a­teur win­ner on MENA Tour

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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