Gearing up for his fifth appearance at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championships, a fit-again Rayhan Thomas hoped to go the distance this time after missing the title by a whisker four years ago. Thomas still has vivid memories of how close he came to creating history at the 2018 edition.
He had shot four-over on the first day but fought back to get within a whisker of the title that would have given him a tee time at the 2019 Masters. He ended Tied-second alongside Keita Nakajima, who went on become World No. 1 amateur, and behind winner Takumi Kanaya, who is now making waves on the pro Tour.
The 22-year-old from Kerala will lead a strong seven-man squad in the 13th edition of the tournament to be played at Amata Spring Country Club from October 27-30.
“I’m playing a lot better. The game is feeling pretty good. I had a stress fracture in my wrist just before the postseason. So I started playing around the start of May. And the Eisenhower (Cup) was the first tournament that I’d played in four months,” said Thomas, who has made the cut each time in this tournament.
“So, considering that, Eisenhower was a good trip. I am now looking forward to playing in the Asia-Pacific again. I love Thailand. And I love Asia-Pacific, they’ve done a great job with them where they are at their event. “Hopefully, you know, it will stir up some good memories from 2018 like putting myself in contention to win this year. So it should be a lot of fun.”
Since 2018, Thomas, who was then based in Dubai, has moved to the US where he is on a golf scholarship at the famous Oklahoma State University, which has produced some superb young stars including Viktor Hovland recently and the likes of Rickie Fowler in the past.
Thomas has a lot of experience of playing in amateurs and alongside professionals. He even won a pro event while being an amateur in Dubai and has made cuts, too, in big events.
He will be part of the Indian team which includes Shat Mishra, who has been very consistent on the domestic circuit; Milind Soni, a member of the Indian team at the 2021 AAC, where he finished 41st and Aryan Roopa Anand, a two-time winner of All India Amateur Championships, an event that is more than a 100 years old.
The others are Krishnav Nikhil Chopra, who will soon be going to the US for college golf and is the son of former India cricketer, Nikhil Chopra. Then there is the Dubai-based Arjun Gupta, winner of the 2000 Abu Dhabi amateurs and 5th at Kenya Amateurs and Shaurya Bhattacharya, sixth-place finisher at Dutch Amateurs are the others.
The AAC has a strong legacy and amateurs love being a part of it. The winner of the event gets to play the Masters Tournament and The Open and the runner-up gets a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open.