By Kent Gray
Rayhan Thomas is confident he can make the matchplay phase of the 122nd British Amateur providing he doesn’t do “anything silly” in his final qualifying round at famed Royal St George’s on Tuesday. Are you listening, Dear Putter?
Two late birdies helped the 17-year-old Dubai-born Indian salvage a one-under 71 Monday from his opening round at Prince’s GG, the Sandwich, Kent coast club co-hosting the 36-hole stokeplay qualifying phase of ‘The Amateur Championship”.
It left Thomas flirting with the cut line in a 25-way share of 58th place midway through the first round. Only the top 64 players from 288 starters advance to the matchplay knockout rounds which run from Wednesday to Saturday at St George’s.
Thomas will want his putter working a little better at St George’s when he tees it up at the Open Championship venue at 5.15pm UAE time (2.15pm UK time) Tuesday. He mixed three birdies with two, three-putt bogeys at Prince’s but at least got it into the red for the day courtesy of back-to-back gains on the 16th and 17th.
“I played solid today, hit a lot of greens and a lot of fairways and the putting pace was good but I just didn’t trust a lot of the lines [on the greens], ” Thomas told Golf Digest Middle East.
“I think to make the cut I just need to make sure I play steady, don’t do anything silly and just keep playing the way I’m playing because I’m doing good enough so far.
“I’ve just got to make sure not to make any big numbers. I think there are about 250  players this week and 64 make it into the matchplay so I’ve got to make sure every shot counts, even the little ones because one stroke here and there can move you up or down about 40 spots.
“So yeah, just stay patient, stay calm and just play. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Thomas described Prince’s as “scoreable” given a relative lack of wind and the first round scoring illustrated just that; only five of the 31 leading players were playing St George’s. It means the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club member will have to conquer something special Tuesday to make the cut.
Iceland’s Gisli Sveinbergsson signed for eight birdies, six of them on the front nine, in a sizzling opening -8 64 to lead by one overnight from Italian Alberto Castagnara was also playing at Prince’s. Welshman Tim Harry and South African Jovan Rebula shared third place after six under 66s.