Dubai-based 16-year-old Rayhan Thomas has received support from some of the finest names in Indian professional golf as he bids to win his second straight MENA Golf Tour title at the Sheikh Maktoum Open in Al Badia Golf Club Wednesday.
Thomas became the first amateur, as well as the youngest winner, in the history of the MENA Golf Tour last week when he won the Dubai Creek Open.
And Wednesday, he goes into the final round of the Sheikh Maktoum Open in sole second place, just two shots behind leader Andrew Marshall of England.
On Tuesday, after Thomas completed his four-under par 68 round, received messages from Jeev Milkha Singh and Anirban Lahiri.
The 42-year-old made five birdies and an eagle against three bogeys to join the English trio of Joshua White, Andrew Marshall and Adam Sagar in tied second place, just one shot behind Sweden’s Fredrik Lindblom, who opened with a tidy 67.
India’s Rayhan Thomas, who has climbed to 852th place from 1,139th in the world golf rankings following his victory at the Dubai Creek Open last week, continued his impressive form, carding a three-under par 69 to occupy solo sixth.
Tiago Lobo, the Abu Dhabi-based amateur from Brazil, was in a three-man group a further shot back on two-under par alongside Antonio Costa and Shafiq Masih.
A regular on the Tour since its inception in 2011, El Hassani is hoping to become the second winner from his country.
Crediting his ball-striking for the good round, the 42-year-old said: “I missed two greens, but had great fun playing on this course even though the blazing sun made things a bit difficult. I missed shorts putts at three and six, both from two feet which was a shame.”
The highlight of El Hassani’s round was when he holed a long 30-footer for an eagle on the eighth after finding the green with his three-wood from 245 yards.
Lindblom made seven birdies and a bogey on either halves of the golf course for his 67 and said: “I played very solid golf, missed just two greens. I have been working really hard on my putting. It was nice to see putts falling in. I could have done even better, but you can’t complain after a 67.”
Defending champion Per Barth of Sweden and Danny Poulter, brother of Ryder Cup hero Ian, carded matching 71s while England’s Zane Scotland, an 11-time winner, settled for 73 along with compatriot Luke Joy.
The UAE’s Ahmed Skaik led the challenge in the MENA Division for amateurs, returning a fine 73 to sit one ahead of Khaled Attieh and two off his fellow Saudi Arabian, Saud Al Sharif.
A total of 98 EGF members took to the Earth Course in what was the largest field since the competition was launched three years ago.
Playing in the Stableford format, Carroll and Farquharrson combined well to top the leaderboard with a score of 45.
They were pushed all the way by JGE’s Lawry Cook and Michael White, who finished second with 44 points, while Jaco Van Heerden and Duayne de Waal took third spot.
Ben Mulvaney and Nick Hymas also had a strong day, collecting the fourth-place prize, having accumulated a total score of with 41 points.
Besides the winning trophy, there was plenty to play for with its ‘Own Course Competitions’.
Anne Bauer and national team member Reema Al Heloo took home the ladies’ Nearest to the Pin prizes, after winning on Holes Six and Seventeen respectively.
In the men’s event, Chris Park and Nick Humas won on Holes Four and Seventeen.
The event marked the end of this year’s EGF Summer Swing with the new season set to begin soon.
EGF expressed their thanks to sponsors Hilton Abu Dhabi, GolfLan and JGE.