McIlroy speaks in glowing terms about teen Thomas
Rayhan Thomas (right) had a practice round with Rory McIlroy ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Dubai - McIlroy has shown no signs of rust following an injury lay-off, with a tied-third in Abu Dhabi, his first event since last October
By James Jose
Published: Tue 23 Jan 2018, 8:50 PM
Last updated: Tue 23 Jan 2018, 10:57 PM
Back in 2012, when Rayhan Thomas was just 12, he had enjoyed a meal with Rory McIlroy. It was a moment that has stayed in his memory and he could well tick one more box, six years on, after playing a practice round with the Northern Irishman, his idol, on Tuesday.
The duo went about the back nine of the Majlis Course ahead of the 29th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which tees off over the weekend. And McIlroy, a two-time winner of the Classic and four-time Major champion spoke in glowing terms about the 18-year-old, who has been making waves and believed that Dubai-born Indian amateur has a great future.
"Obviously, practicing here with Rayhan, he's come along so well since I've known him when he was 13 or 14," McIlroy said on Tuesday.
"Everybody was sort of talking about him then and to see how he's progressed. He's a good player, he does all the right things, practices hard, he works on the right things and he's got a good attitude towards it. I've always tried to, whether it is here with Rayhan or other tournaments, I always try to play practice rounds with some of the guys coming up through because I don't feel like it was that long ago that the guys were doing the same with me. And I felt like it helped me a lot and it is very easy for me to say to Rayhan, 'let's just play nine holes'," added the World No.11.
McIlroy, who has shown no signs of rust following an injury lay-off, with a tied-third in Abu Dhabi, his first event since last October, felt that Rayhan's game was in good shape and added that he would be happy to help if the Indian ever needed any advice.
"I remember everyone talking about this little Indian kid who has got a really bright future. If he wants to ask me any sort of questions, I've always had time for him. He's a really nice kid and I think he will really do well. He's got the right attitude to do well. That's the most important thing. You see loads of kids with lot of talent and they can do a lot but if they don't have the right attitude and the right work ethic, it can only take you so far. But I feel like he's got his head screwed on and he's obviously brought up the right way. And that will really serve him well as he hopefully progresses in the game and goes from strength to strength," said McIlroy.
As a 16-year-old, Thomas won the Dubai Creek Open on the MENA Golf Tour in 2016. He also recorded four top-10 finishes that year. Thomas, who topped the MENA Golf Tour Amateur Order of Merit last year, made the cut in only his third event on the European Tour at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where he finished tied 60.
And late last season, Thomas racked up nine consecutive birdies for a second round 10-under 61 at the Dubai Creek Open, to equal the world record set by USA's Mark Calcavecchia at the RBC Canadian Open in 2009. Thomas is ranked No.20 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings. - firstname.lastname@example.org