The Gulf Club

Thomas warms up for Desert Classic with Majlis 68 en-route to Omega Emirates Amateur Open defence

By Kent Gray
Rayhan Thomas’ week didn’t start so well, a six-over 78 at Yas Links on Monday derailing his bid to qualify for next week’s Desert Swing opener in Abu Dhabi. It’s fair to say the 18-year-old world amateur No.17 didn’t dwell on the frustration for long.

By Friday, Thomas was celebrating back-to-back Omega Emirates Amateur Open titles in Dubai and the MENA Tour trailblazer did it in some style too, five strokes his final margin of victory over Zubair Firdaus (Golf Australia, 74-70 – 144) and Steven Kelbrick (69-75 -144). Kelbrick’s new Trump International Golf Club Dubai club-mate Josh Hill (72-73) was fourth on 145.

Emirates Golf Club is a home away from home for Thomas and the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club member showed why in the 36-hole Emirates Golf Federation order-of-merit event, backing up an opening round of 71 on the Faldo course with a 68 on the Majlis for a 139 aggregate.

The win was made all the more sweet as Thomas had his father John caddying for him.

“It was great carrying his bag today – it’s been a while but I enjoyed it,” John said. “[Rayhan’s] Games in good shape. Always room for improvement – hopefully will be ready for a classic act.”

The four-under loop of the Majlis was indeed timely as it was on the same layout where Thomas will look to repeat his Omega Dubai Desert Classic heroics of 2017 in the 30th anniversary edition of the European Tour event from Jan. 24-27.

The Oklahoma State University-bound amateur, who made the cut in the European Tour event two years ago, is set for a mouth-watering amateur showdown on the Majlis with Jovan Rebula, the nephew of three time Desert Classic winner and four-time major champion Ernie Els.

RELATED: Thomas to take on Ernie Els’ nephew in spicy amateur showdown at 30th Desert Classic

Rebula became the first South African since Bobby Cole in 1966 to win the British Amateur Championship last summer and went on to play The Open Championship at Carnoustie. After the Desert Classic, he’ll also tee it up in The Masters at Augusta National and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Paul Byrne, meanwhile, won the net title at the Omega Emirates Amateur Open with a 145 aggregate, his closing net 70 on the Majlis pipping Emirates G.C. clubmate Chaher Sakkal on a countback. Pavel Foubik Jnr was third on 148.

Rayhan Thomas at his home Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)


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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