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Thomas confident ahead of Desert Classic

UAE-based amateur made the cut in ‘home event’ last year

Gulf News

Dubai: Rayhan Thomas believes he can compete at the highest level when he joins other Mena Tour invites hoping to make the most of a “massive opportunity” at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club from January 25-28.

“I can’t wait to get started. It will be fun playing alongside such a fantastic field. I am feeling confident about my game, just working on my wedges and putter as my short game will be crucial to going to low,” said the 18-year-old Dubai-based amateur who made the cut in this event last year finishing in a tie for 60th on three over after opening with a 68, before going on to equal the world record for most consecutive birdies at last year’s Dubai Creek Open.

“The (Majlis) is like my home course. Having played there numerous times, I know it like the back of my hand. I see no reason why I shouldn’t do well there. It was nice making the cut last year, but I didn’t play that well on the front nines.

“I am really grateful to the Mena Tour for providing a perfect platform for its members to kick-start their careers. It is one of the best golf tours, one that offers plenty of incentives, including multiple starts on the European Tour.”

Also joining Thomas will be top three Mena professionals; Jamie Elson, Henric Sturehed and Luke Joy, and the leading amateur Todd Clements.

For Clements and Sturehed, who earned the 2018 European Tour card through Qualifying School, it be will be their first Desert Classic outing while Elson and Joy, like Thomas, have been down this route before — and know what to expect.

Enjoying a bit of career-resurgence after winning the Mena Tour’s Order of Merit title in 2017, Elson will be hoping to find some of his old magic that saw him win the Finnish Open in 2003 on the Challenge Tour and ply his trade on the top-tier European Tour.

“I want to take a really positive, relaxed attitude into the tournament. I’m hoping to play some good golf and see where that leaves me. I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself,” said Elson.

Tournament director David Spencer, said: “The Omega Dubai Desert Classic invites to the Mena Tour is part of our commitment to try and substantially enhance the careers of the tour members while recognising the region’s growing influence in the world of golf.

“It’s a big moment for them and they will be quite eager to give a good account of themselves, underline the strides being made by the tour in putting the region on the sporting map. I wish them the very best and hope their presence will serve an inspiration for those who want to take up golf as a career.”

A strong field including defending champion Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Pat Perez will take part in the 29 edition of the tournament. Daily tickets costing Dh175 and season tickets covering the whole week for Dh500 will be available online via Under-16s go free if accompanied by an adult holding a valid ticket for the day.


Juan Martin Del Potro holds the championship trophy after defeating Roger Federer (not pictured) in the men's finals in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.