Rayhan Thomas has bypassed the final event of the MENA Tour’s Thailand swing to spearhead the amateurs’ defence of the prestigious Dubai Golf Trophy against a severely weakened UAE PGA Tour line-up.
The 18th staging of the Ryder Cup-style event will play out at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club on May 20 and 21 respectively.
The 16-strong amateur team, chosen from the Emirates Golf Federation’s order of merit (OOM), powered to a 19.5 to 12.5 victory last year, their first win in nine years and just their third ever since the inception of the Dubai Golf Trophy in 2000.
The EFG amateurs will be bullish with Thomas back and given that the professionals are missing the three leading players from this year’s UAE PGA OOM – Cennydd Mills (DCGYC), Steven Munro (UAE PGA) and Stefan Wears-Taylor (Al Zorah) – along with injured Jumeirah Golf Estates pro Tom Henderson.
Thomas’ busy schedule has seen him finish T28 and T23 in the past two MENA Tour events but such is the stature of the Dubai Trophy, the 17-year-old Indian amateur No.1 has opted out of this week’s rain-shortened Pattana Golf Championship to support the Dubai Golf event.
Close to half of the amateur team is made up of juniors, aged between 12 to 18, including Thomas, Chris Rahm, Josh Hill and Arjun Gupta. With 10 players from last year’s winning team returning, there is a great mix of youth and experience, veterans and rookies.
Amateur captain Bayhaan Lakdawala is keen to repeat the success of 2016.
“The enthusiasm this year is something that I have never seen before; several players have made significant changes to their work, family and travel schedules to compete in the Order of Merit events to ensure their place on the team,” said Lakdawala.
“The win last year sparked a lot of interest amongst amateurs in the country. This has led to stronger tournament fields and excellent golf being played in the qualifying events. Coming off one of the most competitive amateur seasons ever, we are really looking forward to competing against the pros in one of the most esteemed golfing events in the UAE.”
David Gray (DG Golf), playing in his 10th consecutive Dubai Golf Trophy, will captain the UAE PGA Pros as they seek a 15th victory,
“With the amateur game at a higher level year-on-year, it’s going to be another fantastic two days of heated competition,” said Gray.
“I will miss our top three players Mills, Munro and Taylor who all have prior commitments. Henderson managed to break his hand in a freak accident but we have a lot of depth with some recent fine form in the closing events from all team members leaving confidence high. It’s an honour to be captain of 15 stellar professionals and I look forward to seeing how the two days’ unfold with, of course, the professionals denying the amateurs their first ever title defence. “
Dubai Golf CEO Christopher May has been closely involved with the event since it started in 2000.
“The purpose of the Dubai Golf Trophy is to raise the profile of golf in the region and to bring players from clubs all over the UAE together in a competitive and enjoyable format, which provides a focus for players to aim for throughout the qualifying events during the season. Qualifying for this end of season tournament is a great achievement for the golfers involved. We are all anticipating an exciting two days of competition ahead,” said May.
2017 Dubai Golf Trophy – Teams
David Gray (Captain, DG Golf)
Ryan Smith (Vice Captain, The Montgomerie)
Callum Nicoll (Abu Dhabi)
Gavin Sutherland (ETPI JGE)
Jack Woods (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Joe Marshall (BHSGD – The Els Club)
Luke Plumb (Trump Dubai)
Malcolm Young (Arabian Ranches)
Michael Major (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Tian Wentzel (Al Zorah)
Shane Peacock (Al Ain)
Michael Bolt (Trump Dubai)
Dong Lee (Dubai Golf)
Tom Buchanan (Al Ain)
Alex Nicholson (The Track, Meydan Golf)
Rory Young (Al Ghazal Golf Club)
Bayhaan Lakdawala (Captain, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Max Burrow (Vice Captain, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Ahmad Skaik (EGF)
Arjun Gupta (Jumeirah Golf Estates)
Aryan Chordia (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Chris Alderman (Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club)
Christofer Rahm (EGF)
Craig Vance (Tower Links)
Josh Hill (Jumeirah Golf Estates)
Martin Fernandez (Jumeirah Golf Estates)
Mike Mezei (Emirates Golf Club)
Miki Merza (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Rayhan Thomas (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club)
Sidney De Souza (EGF)
Stephen Loftus (Al Ghazal Golf Club)
Steven Kelbrick (Jumeirah Golf Estates)
Caption main photo: Dubai Golf CEO Christopher May is flanked by the respective captains Bayhaan Lakdawala (left, amateur) and David Gray