Junior Presidents Cup The Gulf Club

Gary Player puts Rayhan Thomas’ tough Jnr Presidents Cup finish into perspective with a playful jab

By Kent Gray
When the chips are down, it doesn’t hurt to have a golf legend in your camp to put things into perspective.

That’s exactly what nine-time major champion Gary Player did for Rayhan Thomas on Tuesday after the Dubai teen’s Junior Presidents Cup campaign ended on a sour note when he was soundly beaten, 7&6, by U.S. lefty Akshay Bhatia at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey.

The U.S. team went on to win the match 14-10 overall but not before the International’s edged the singles 7-5 – and Player put a smile back on Thomas’ dial.

Player, serving as honourary assistant to International team captain Trevor Immelman, did his best to lighten the mood and share some encouraging words for the future with Thomas and his teammates afterwards.

“This is like freezing for you here, right?” said the Black Knight, playfully jabbing Thomas in the stomach. “It’s so hot from where you come from, man it is hot.”

“So it’s been a wonderful experience for you guys  How lucky are you guys to have a trip like this, eh?  Awesome, what a great experience.”

Thomas started his match against Bhatia well, a par on the first good enough to take him 1up. But the Junior PGA Champion won five holes on the trot from the third, was 5up at the turn and closed the tie out with an impressive birdie-eagle combo on 11 and 12 as Thomas struggled.

“A bit sloppy and the other kid is sharp,” is how Rayhan’s father, John, following the action in Edison, N.J., described it.

Thomas ended the week with a half point (from his opening fourball match with South African Garrick Higgo against Noah Goodwin and Cole Hammer) from a possible three.

The Dubai Creek member will now get insider access at the senior Presidents Cup starting at nearby Liberty National on Thursday before turning his attention to next month’s prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thomas and Akshay Bhatia before Tuesday’s singles match, won 7&6 by the U.S. left-hander



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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