‘Only way is up” says Rayhan after nerveless RAK 2016 golf challenge debut

Teenage sensation Rahyan Thomas is eyeing further top-level opportunities in professional golf tournaments at home and abroad following a nerveless European Challenge Tour debut in the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge.
Despite being a few weeks short of his 17th birthday, the only teenager in the 105-strong field defied the odds and posted rounds of 71, 70, 70 and 72 to card a commendable five-under par finish for the tournament.
“I’m pretty happy, I wish I could have played a little better but this is my first Challenge Tour event and to play well, make the cut and finish where I have in an atmosphere like this is good, I’m happy,” said Thomas.
“The main thing that made me feel comfortable was being at home in the UAE and seeing familiar faces. My family has been here all week and I’ve had a good caddy in Alistair Murray. I felt very comfortable this week and that showed out on the course. If I keep playing like that it can only help me get more invites to professional tournaments.”
After narrowly missing out on four consecutive sub-par rounds when a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th green rolled agonisingly past the hole, Thomas insisted he had no regrets.
“That last one didn’t drop but this performance gives me a lot of confidence for next year and the future. The only way is up. If I keep progressing at this rate then the sky is the limit. This experience has been invaluable to me and my first Challenge Tour event is something I’ll cherish forever,” said the youngster.
With Thomas handed his Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge opportunity following an invite from tournament organiser Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), Robert Fiala from the Emirates Golf Federation believes Thomas has everything in his locker to reach the game’s zenith.
“What an achievement,” said Fiala. “As a member of the Emirates Golf Federation we are immensely proud of the year Rayhan has had and the career he is putting together. The way Rayhan conducts himself on and off the course is special, he’s like a veteran professional. The world is at his feet.”
Fiala also praised the super schoolboy for proving homegrown talent can thrive in international tournaments played on UAE shores.
“Rayhan embodies the abundant opportunities open to the UAE’s junior golfers. We have the best courses, training facilities and coaches; everything is in place for young talent. We hope Rayhan opens the door to a production line of homegrown players representing the UAE both at home and on the international stage,” added Fiala.
The Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge attracted a marquee line-up of international sponsors including RAKTDA as title sponsor, Al Hamra Golf Club, RAK Rock, Stevin Rock, RAK Chamber, BMW and Rivoli as event sponsors, and Waldorf Astoria, Voss Water, Wicked, icflix and Nike Golf as event partners.