By Kent Gray
Another week, another deflating Scottish golf lesson for Rayhan Thomas.
A frustrating second round 77 at Murcar Links on Tuesday will likely see the Dubai teen miss the 36-hole cut and resulting matchplay phase of The Amateur Championship for the second successive year.
The MENA Tour trailblazer had been T-22 after an opening 72 on the par 70 Royal Aberdeen on Monday and comfortably on track to make the top-64 at the 123rd edition of the British Am. But as was the case at the St Andrews Links Trophy at the Home of Golf the previous week, where Thomas went from contending after 27 holes to somehow missing the 36-hole cut, Tuesday wasn’t to be his day.
The world amateur No.26 started well at Murcar, rattling off three nerve-settling pars before a birdie on the par 5 4th got him back to one over for the championship. But a bogey-double bogey-par-bogey run upped the pressure and while he birdied the 9th, he went out in two over 38 and the cutline suddenly appeared on the horizon.
A triple bogey on the par-4 11th was a massive body blow and while he rebounded immediately with a birdie two, the damage was done as Thomas limped home with four more dropped shots against one gain in the final six holes.
He eventually finished +9 for the championship and was T-156th midway through the second round. The projected cut as at 5.30pm UAE time was +5.
More to follow…
Thomas well placed as The Amateur Championship cut looms
The matchplay phase of The (British) Amateur Championship is within Rayhan Thomas’ grasp but the Dubai teen will have to overcome the demons of last year, and last week, when he tees it up in the final round of qualifying on Tuesday.
Thomas carded a two-over 73 in his opening round of the 123rd edition of the R&A-organised event at Royal Aberdeen on Monday, overcoming breezy conditions for a share of 22nd place. The 18-year-old world amateur No.26 must finish among the top-64 players to advance to the matchplay knockout rounds (all to be played at Royal Aberdeen) and started his second round on the notoriously tricky Murcar Links at 8.50am (11.50am UAE time) Tuesday with a two shot buffer over those on the cut line.
Thomas’ matchplay pedigree is without question – his historic run to the semifinals of the Junior U.S. Amateur ample proof of his one-on-one ability. But the MENA Tour star has struggled capitalising on strong strokeplay opportunities of late, notably slipping from contention through 27 holes at the St Andrews Links Trophy to missing the 36-hole cut.
He also has the heartache of last year’s British Am to erase from his mind as he prepares to tee it up at Murcar; the Dubai Creek player saw a four-footer burn the final hole at Royal St. George’s last summer as he missed the 36-hole cut by an agonising stroke.
South African 18-year-old Wilco Nienaber fired an four-under 66 on the par-70 Murcar Links to lead the way after the first day. The Bloemfontein teen, beaten in a playoff for the prestigious Brabazon Trophy earlier this month, took a two-shot lead into the second round of strokeplay qualifying over Australia’s David Micheluzzi and Canada’s Sam Meek. Micheluzz and Meek signed for 69s on Royal Aberdeen but face the tricker Murcar Links on Tuesday like Thomas.
Reigning MENA Tour amateur order of merit champion Todd Clements blew out to a 10-over 81 on Royal Aberdeen in his opening round. The Englishman was T-228 and needed a very low red number today for a chance to make the matchplay.
Dutch teen Pierre Junior Verlaar, just the second amateur after Thomas to win a MENA Tour title (the 2017 Royal Golf Mohammedia Open in Morocco) slumped to 83, 13 over, on Murcar in a further indication on Monday’s tough conditions.
For live second round scoring, visit the R&A leaderboard HERE
FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD – 123rd Amateur Championship
First round leaderboard from the 123rd Amateur Championship. Courtesy R&A.