Rayhan Thomas, whose family is from Kottayam, has just equalled a world record at the Dubai Creek Open. The 17-year-old hit a stunning nine birdies in a row (a birdie is one stroke less than the designated number to complete a hole). The record was first set by American Mark Calcavecchia at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open.
“When I hit the first two birdies, I felt this was going to be my day,” said Rayhan. “I'm very happy with my performance.”
And this has been one of many. In the highly-competitive US Amateur matchplay championships at Kansas in July, Rayhan came third after losing to eventual winner Noah Goodwin.
In the process, Rayhan became the first Indian to reach the semi-finals. Previous winners include Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, both former world No. 1. Last year, Rayhan also became the first amateur to win on the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) tour.
His father John is the Chief Operating Officer of an oil, gas and marine company based in the United Arab Emirates, while his mother Neena is a homemaker.
“It's a great achievement, at this age,” said John. “I believe he's got what it takes to reach the top.” Incidentally, Rayhan is No. 50 in the world amateur golf rankings and No. 1 in India in the category.
Adds Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, who witnessed the record, “Rayhan is a huge talent. He played beautifully, hit the ball very well and putted nicely."
In Dubai, Rayhan trains daily at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, named after Woods' former coach. “I love golf and want to become a champion,” said Rayhan.
(Page 1, The New Indian Express, Kerala Editions)