Junior Presidents Cup The Gulf Club

Thomas to face U.S. lefty in Jnr Presidents Cup singles match after “awesome” opening day

South African Garrick Higgo and Dubai’s Rayhan Thomas pose for the cameras ahead of their halved fourball match with Noah Goodwin and fellow Texan Cole Hammer at Plainfield CC on Monday.

By Kent Gray
Rayhan Thomas has U.S. left-hander Akshay Bhatia in his crosshairs as he looks to cap the first half of the most “awesome”  week of his young golf career in style.

The MENA Tour trailblazer will meet the 15-year-old North Carolina star at 8:40am local time (3:40pm UAE time) as the International team look to overcome a 9-3 deficit, and huge odds, to win the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup in New Jersey.

Bhatia, 8th on the American Junior Golf Association rankings, and will take some beating. David Toms’ captain’s pick for the U.S., Bhatia won both his fourball and foursomes matches on Monday at Plainfield Country Club and brought three 2017 wins with him to Edison, including victory in the Junior PGA Championship.

But if Thomas can replicate some of the shot making he displayed on the opening day, the Wake Forest lefty is in for a ding-dong battle.

The 17-year-old Dubai-born Indian No.1 holed a clutch putt on the 18th hole to fight back from 3 down to earn a half against Noah Goodwin and fellow Texan Cole Hammer in the first morning fourball match out. The WAGR No.31 again teamed with South African Garrick Higgo for the afternoon foursomes and while the International pair were well beaten 4&3 by Goodwin and South Carolina’s Trent Phillips, Thomas still battled gamely with shots like this birdie putt on Plainfield’s 7th hole:

There were also a couple of delightful chips:

Typically, Thomas doesn’t know when he is beaten and insists the U.S. haven’t got got their hands on the trophy just yet.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow’s round playing Akshay Bhatia. He’s a great player so I can’t wait to start and get things going and hopefully coming back from this large deficit and trying to win this thing,” Thomas told Golf Digest Middle East.

”We are all capable of winning our matches and I think if we put our hearts and souls into it, I think we can definitely pull it off. Overall I just want to have some fun. I’ve learned a lot this week and it’s not even the end of the week for me at least cause I stay on till October 1st for the [senior] Presidents Cup [starting at nearby Liberty National on Thursday].”

Thomas described Monday’s matches in tandem with Higgo as “super fun” and an “awesome experience”.

Related: Watch Rayhan Thomas make a clutch birdie to earn historic half at Jnr Presidents Cup

“To get that half in the first match was awesome, I mean we were down early, three down after 11,  but we got that half point which was huge against probably the top pair from the U.S. team.

“In the afternoon we sort of put ourselves in a bit of a hole early on which cost us. It took a lot out of us trying to get out of that hole which we could have done easily on the stretch from 10 to 13. We had a lot of good chances but…”

You suspect Thomas won’t leave any but’s or what if’s out there Tuesday against Bhatia.


Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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