By Kent Gray
The Junior Presidents Cup has been everything and more than Rayhan Thomas expected and it hasn’t even started yet.
Thomas sounded very much like the clichéd kid in a candy store on the eve of the U-18s event at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey and why not. Not long after posing for pictures in front of the Presidents Cup proper with his father John, the 17-year-old Mena Tour trailblazer received his International team kit. He then found himself under the watchful gaze of International team captain Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, during a practice round.
“We got six shirts today, bunch of other gear and goodies so it’s pretty exciting getting into the locker room and meeting all the team-mates,” Thomas told Golf Digest Middle East. “We’ve bonded nicely, we’ve got a good idea of what we want to do and I think we are going to have a really good and successful week.”
— Golf Digest ME (@GolfDigestME) September 23, 2017
Having qualified No.1 for Immelman’s Internationals, Thomas is likely to play both Monday’s fourball and foursomes ahead of the singles matches on Tuesday which involves all 12 players from both the U.S. and International teams.
“Trevor has been a huge help. Obviously he’s captain, he’s a good guy and he’s been helping us out a lot, smart and he obviously knows his game, and he knows our game [after] looking at us today,” Thomas said.
“He’s played the course a couple of times so he’s a good help and it’s good to pick his brain a little bit. The course is in fantastic shape, the greens are running at least 12.5 [on the stimpmetre] and they’re beautiful and sloped crazy. I think they are some of the best greens I’ve ever putted on.”
Thomas has, of course, shown a liking for great greens recently, rolling in a world record-tying nine successive birdies in a course record equalling 61 in his brave Dubai Creek Open defence earlier this month.
That form has the Creek member primed for Plainfield.
“I think representing something bigger than yourself is always fun, a little more pressure but always exciting and I’m sure there will be tonnes of fist pumps being thrown around on Monday.”
The Jnr competition is a prelude to the senior Presidents Cup at nearby Liberty National starting on Thursday.
The U.S. juniors are led by 13-time PGA Tour winner and the 2001 PGA Championship victor, David Toms, and honourary captain Jack Nicklaus, while Immelman has nine-time major champion Gary Player in his camp.