The Gulf Club

Thomas eyes deep red numbers at Portmarnock to finally advance at British Amateur; Hill left playing for experience

By Kent Gray
Rayhan Thomas’ ability to go seriously low will be tested again on Tuesday as he looks to advance to the matchplay phase of the British Amateur Championship for the first time.

Thomas opened his third tilt at the R&A’s premier men’s amateur event with a four-over 75 at The Island near Dublin on Monday as just 17 of the 288 starters dipped under par following a windswept start to the 124th edition of The Amateur Championship.

It left the 19-year-old Dubai-domiciled Indian in a 37-way share of 106th place heading into the final round of strokeplay qualifying on Tuesday and likely needing a sub-par round to be among the top 64 players who advance to the matchplay knockout. Indeed, heading into the second round, 78 players are at +2 or better meaning the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club member has much ground to make up.

WATCH FIRST ROUND HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 124th AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP

Fortunately, Thomas, who will play famed Portmarnock (par 72) on Tuesday, is no stranger to low numbers as his 61 at the MENA Tour’s Dubai Creek Open in 2017, including a world-record equalling nine successive birdies, amply illustrates.

The world amateur No.14 also has a runner-up finish at last year’s Asia Pacific Championship and his eighth-placing in the individual standings at the 2018 Eisenhower Trophy world amateur teams’ championship – not to mention two professional titles – to draw on.

Meanwhile, England age-group representative Josh Hill will be looking for a vast improvement on the 10-over 82 he signed for at Portmarnock on Monday. Playing The Amateur for the first time, the Trump Dubai member switches to the par-71 The Island layout today.

Josh Hill

Morocco’s Ayoub Ssouadi, 23, posted an impressive four-under-par 67 over The Island, near Dublin to claim a share of the opening round lead alongside England’s recent Brabazon Trophy runner-up Harry Hall and Germany’s Anton Albers. Alber also reached four under after a birdie at the last at Portmarnock for his 68.

Current MENA Tour amateur order of merit leader Curtis Knipes (Chelmsford) is handily placed after a one-under 70 at The Island. The Englishman was T-9 heading into his second round at Portmarnock.

RELATED: Meet Curtis Knipes, the MENA Tour’s latest amateur head-turner

Players from 37 countries are represented in the 288-strong field in Ireland this week.

 

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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