Rayhan Thomas is trying to keep his expectations to minimum as he prepares for his third European Tour appearance of the season this week, but is unable to hide his excitement at the opportunity to showcase his talent and skill in his home country.
The 17-year-old Dubai-based youngster is one of four amateurs invited by the Indian Golf Union (IGU) to take part in the Hero Indian Open, a $1.75 million tournament co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
Placed 98th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Thomas is India’s No1 amateur, but he has developed his skills in Dubai, where he was born and brought up.
The national Open of India starts Thursday at the Gary Player-designed DLF Golf & Country Club.
It will be the fourth European Tour outing for Thomas, who played the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Omega Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year, as well as the Qatar Masters last year.
At the Desert Classic, he became only the second UAE-based amateur to make the professional cut, eventually finishing tied 60th.
But despite his brilliant achievements over the past one year, Thomas is not getting his hopes high, especially on a golf course he has never played before.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s like I am playing two home Opens in succession. I have grown up watching the Desert Classic, so I always wanted to play that. And as an Indian, nothing gets any bigger than the Indian Open,” said Thomas.
“I really can’t wait. Obviously, playing in Abu Dhabi and the Desert Classic was huge for me, and when you have done that, you do want to keep playing on the big stage. So, to get another opportunity is just fantastic and I am very grateful to Hero and IGU for giving me the invite.
“It really feels good to be the No1 amateur in India. We are a country that is growing rapidly when it comes to golf. So, to have that title is something special. I am very excited about going back to India and to prove myself.
“But I am trying not to have any extra expectations after making the cut in Dubai. I just want to play my best golf and see where I finish. As long as I can gain something from the week, I am happy.”
Thomas has never played at the DLF Golf & Country Club, and he cannot speak Hindi, which meant a frantic search for a caddie with whom he can communicate.
“No clue. I have never seen the course. I checked it out only on the website and saw that there were a lot of dogleg lefts and rights there. I have tried to shape my shots more while practicing here,” said Thomas.
“I really wanted to play the Indian Open at Delhi Golf Club. It’s like playing the Open Championship at St Andrews. I played at the DGC once last year and I really liked it a lot. Hopefully, the tournament will go back to the golf course in the future and I will be able to play it there.
“I was looking for a caddie when I spoke to Manish Goyal, with whom I played a few MENA Tour events. And Manish was happy to carry the bag for me this week.
“I am delighted to get someone as a caddie who is also a good player himself. Most importantly, he can speak English, because I don’t know a word of Hindi.”
Thomas said he has been working on a few things on his swing with his coach Justin Parsons since the Dubai Desert Classic, and his efforts are already bearing fruits.
“I have been working on a couple of things, like weight transfer. I am trying to use the ground better to generate a bit more power and speed. I have gained a mile or two in clubhead speed, so I should be hitting it a bit further than what I have during Abu Dhabi and Dubai tournaments,” added Thomas.
“But apart from that, I have pretty much tried to practice the same things as before.
“I also have a new putter in the bag. It’s similar to the old Scotty Cameron I had, but this one is customized for me. It has different alignment lines, slightly lower loft and different shaft angle. I am liking it a lot, so hopefully I will roll it pure when I get there.”
If you are interested in testing your limits, boxing can be a great outlet. The training methods will help improve your cardio, coordination, and reflexes, as well as instilling self-discipline.
Fittingly named the “Sweet Science”, boxing is fundamentally about hitting your opponent without being hit.
But physical combat aside, simple training and preparation in the boxing gym will certainly get you in shape if fitness is what you are aiming for. So if you never tried boxing before, head down to one of these gyms and sign up for a session.
Round 10 Boxing is an exclusive boxing gym that offers training for all levels of boxing, from beginners to competitors. Newcomers to the gym are offered a free trial upon registration. Membership costs vary, so have a look at their website for more information.
PRICES: Boxing classes are AED100 per session and AED699 per month for unlimited classes.
Head down to TribeFit for boxing sessions in a huge facility that offers more than just a great training environment. TribeFit offers personalised trainers and boxing instructors who will give you all the tools and exercises needed to enhance your boxing skills. Classes are open to members only.
This club boasts qualified trainers and experienced boxers to teach you the ropes. If you are seeking professional training or just signing up for your physical fitness, let the Fit Boys gym team help you out. If you need any extra persuasion to head down there, they have hosted the likes of British former World Heavyweight Champion David Haye!
PRICES: The group boxing session is 80 AED per person.
Learn how to box from a trainer who has over 20 years of experience in the “sweet science”. Romanian Octavian Lehadus trains in boxing and physical fitness; the atmosphere is professional and the program will teach boxing students all they need to know.
PRICES: The club offers two packages – 12 classes a month will cost you 4200 AED and 20 classes are 6,000 AED.
This training centre offers boxing lessons and will guide you through a healthy lifestyle program. Other forms of combat sports taught include wrestling and mixed martial arts. The programs are available for men and women and juniors.
PRICES: Individual classes are 90 AED, the club also will have a monthly subscription that costs 600 AED.
This gym hosts an array of combat styles including boxing and kick boxing. Lessons are available for adults and juniors, with training programs tailored to your experience and level of fitness. Pass by their Discovery Gardens or Barsha Heights branch to have a look at the programs.
There are Fitness First facilities all over the city and the majority of them offer boxing classes. Newcomers can enjoy a free initial workout, including boxing drills that will help your technique and physical fitness.
PRICES: Non members can have a free trial boxing class and can sign up here. Contact the number below to setup an appointment for membership if you are interested, prices vary with certain Fitness First branches.
Interested in trying boxing on a rooftop gym? This facility has state of the art equipment and qualified trainers that will get you fit through boxing. Their approach is exciting and welcoming to all newcomers. The fitness centre has two locations – one in Business Bay and another in JLT.
PRICES: 300 AED per session. A monthly membership will cost you 250 AED part of a promotional package from Elevation Fitness.
This gym offers state-of-the-art equipment and personal trainers who will assist you in your boxing training. The facility is equipped with strength and conditioning equipment, with boxing classes offered on both a group and individual basis.
PRICES: 100 AED per class and 699 AED for a month plus gym access.
A fully functional gym with a spacious boxing section, lessons are on Saturdays every week. Trainers are available for beginners and advanced pugilists who need to improve their skills. Group sessions and junior sessions are also offered.
Set in a one-of-a-kind boxing studio, instructors will conduct intense boxing workouts. Punching drills and technique, as well as movement, are part of this intense 45-minute workout. The gym offers a free trial boxing workout upon registration.
PRICES: 110 AED per class and a five session package for 500 AED.
Founded by MMA fighter Tam Khan, this fitness centre has all you need if you are serious about your boxing training. Boxing lessons run throughout the week and on Saturdays, with a full fitness gym also available for members.
Located in JLT, this club offers boxing lessons twice a week on Sundays and Tuesdays. Trainers will help you through the fundamentals of boxing, movement and technique and how to properly throw punches and defend yourself.
PRICES: The first class is free of charge, afterwards it is 60 AED per class and 480 AED for a monthly subscription.
Learn how to box from qualified and knowledgeable trainers with extensive experience in the field. This new facility has all you need in terms of technical boxing. They do not have boxing bags – all the work is done with pads and trainers.
PRICES: 60 AED per session, 400 AED for 10 sessions, 500 AED monthly subscription/ unlimited sessions.
Train with a Muay Thai instructor individually or with a group at the Colosseum Club. They offer lessons and extensive training in this form of combat sports. There is also a gym available in the facility and is accessed by members of the club.
PRICES: A Month of Thai boxing classes will cost you 450 AED.
The Fazza Championships bring together thousands of professionals and amateurs from multiple cultures to compete in various traditional sporting disciplines.
The series of events welcome participants from across the globe and there are three categories: men, women and juniors.
With preserving tradition in mind, contestants will compete with the traditional “saktoun” rifle in hand. These eligible individuals will then receive equipment and guidance from experts prior to the main event.
While remembering humble beginnings is certainly important, the championship will have scouts hoping to identify future prospects who can to follow in the footsteps of former victors in prestigious competitions such as the Asia Games, Olympics and Paralympics.
Only a couple of weeks after the Abu Dhabi Tour and UAE Team Emirates’ unmitigated success, the final race of the Al Wathba Cycle Race Series will conclude another season of cycling in the UAE capital.
The event serves as an ideal opportunity for riders to become familiar with this form of racing and hone their skills on the bike. As skills and fitness improve, competitors are naturally re-seeded to ride side-by-side runners of similar levels while they attempt to shorten the margin between themselves and the fastest group upfront.
The Urban-Ultra UTX50 2017 takes daring runners through the heart of Ras Al-Khaimah’s enigmatic wilderness.
Urban-Ultra have replaced their previous multi-stage race with a brand-new concept. Participants will now take part in a self-supported single-staged 50km race through Ras Al Khaimah’s mountainous and sandy terrain.
The ADCB Zayed Sports City 5k&10k Run takes participants through Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City, and raises funds for nominated charities in the process.
The second and third Zayed Sports City runs are open to people of various fitness levels with previous editions welcoming everyone from toddlers to 70-year-olds!
It’s a sensible idea for novice runners to take part in the 5km fun run, which consists of a single circuit of the Zayed Sports City grounds. For those keen to further test their endurance, the 10km run requires participants to complete two laps.
Contestants who reach the finishing line receive medals, their official race time and a running cap.
Attend the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and watch in awe as talented, up-and-coming drivers from the Middle East showcase their motorsport prowess.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge returns to the Middle East for an eighth time, showcasing the region’s top motorsport talent. The multi-round event begins at the Bahrain International Circuit before temporarily shifting eastwards to the UAE, where drivers will grace the Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit tracks.
WHERE: BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT AND THE UAE MORE INFO: gt3me.com