Rayhan Thomas could not hide his sense of disappointment despite his historic run to the semi-finals of the US Junior Amateurs.
In the premier junior tournament, organized by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and previously won by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, the 17-year-old Dubai-based Thomas became the first Indian to make it to the last four stage before losing to Noah Goodwin in the semis on Friday evening.
No Indian player has ever made it this far in the tournament in the past.
Goodwin, who finished runner-up in the tournament last year, is the No1 player in the US Junior Presidents Cup standings, while Thomas is No1 on the International team.
Friday could have been a dress rehearsal of what could be a future battle when the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup is held September 24-26 in Edison, New Jersey, but the world No27 Goodwin was too good for the world No85 Thomas on the day and won 5&4 to reach his second successive final.
Speaking to Sport360 after the match, Thomas said: “Yeah, there is a slight sense of disappointment, having come so close to playing the final.
“But at the end of the day, I am just happy to be here and I thought that was a good result. I really loved the event and learned a lot. The course was impeccable.
“The people of Kansas were great and it was good to have my mum here with me this week. The USGA really treated us well and gave us an almost US Open-like feel.
“I’d love to be back next year and do better…would love to be holding that trophy one day.”
On the semi-final match, Thomas refused to offer any excuses, and simply accepted he lost to a better player on the day.
“I thought Noah played really well. I think he was something like four- or five-under par for the 14 holes we played,” said Thomas, who became the first amateur to win on the MENA Golf Tour last year at the Dubai Creek Classic.
“I did not play well, and he played well – that was the only reason why I lost.”
Last year, Thomas had told Sport360 that his big aim by the end of the year would be to get physically fit to withstand the rigours of playing and walking 36 holes, that seem to the norm in amateur tournaments.
At Flint Hills National Golf Club this week, he played as many as nine rounds in seven days, including two practice rounds, and was pleased with the way he felt at the end of it.
“It was a long week and it was tough. Match play golf is very intense, so it was physically and mentally draining,” Thomas added.
“But I thought I did pretty well. To reach the semi-finals of such an event you have to be mentally and physically fit, and I felt I handled it much better than I would have say a year ago.”
Thomas now takes a week off before playing the Western Amateur in Chicago, one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the US which will feature each of the top-10 ranked players in the field this year.