New Delhi, February 22: Prodigious Dubai-based Indian amateur Rayhan Thomas will get his first taste of a major professional event in his homeland when he tees up at the Hero Indian Open 2017 next month.
The 17-year-old golfer, who is the highest ranked Indian amateur in the world at No. 94, is one of the four amateurs who have been given a spot in the National Open.
Apart from Thomas, the Indian Golf Union has given spots to US-based Rigel Fernandes, Yuvraj Sandhu and Yashas Chandra, all 20 years of age.
The Hero Indian Open will be held from March 9 to 12, with an enhanced prize purse of US$1.75 million and for the first time will be held at the challenging and picturesque Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
“It is a dream come true for me,” said Thomas, who recently teed up at the Dubai Desert Classic and made the cut whilst playing alongside some of the biggest names in the game. He played the first two rounds in the company of two Hero Indian Open stalwarts, the 2015 Hero Indian Open winner, Anirban Lahiri, and the 2016 champion, SSP Chawrasia. Both of them had words of praise for the young Indian.
In 2016, Rayhan also won a professional tournament in the Middle East on the MENA Tour, whilst playing as an amateur. He was in top-10 in four other events and that helped him break into top-100 of the World Amateur rankings.
The three other amateurs, who have been given spots are Rigel Fernandes, who is based and is studying in an US University. The 20-year-old Fernandes, who grew up in Dubai and is now pursuing a degree at the University of South Florida, while playing golf, was also very excited about coming to India for the Hero Indian Open.
“It is a dream come true for me.” – Rayhan Thomas
“I have always wanted to play this tournament and it is indeed something I am looking forward to it,” said Fernandes.
Both Thomas and Fernandes were part of the Indian team that played at the 2016 Asian Amateur Championships in Incheon, Korea.
The other two Indian amateurs to feature at the Hero Indian Open 2017 are Yuvraj Sandhu, 20, and Yashas Chandra, 22.
All the top Indians and World No. 25 Rafa Cabrera-Bello will be seen in action at the Hero Indian Open 2017, India’s biggest golfing event, which is now in its third year on the European Tour and is co-sanctioned with the Asian tour.