India’s star amateur Rayhan excited about Hero Indian Open

Rayhan Thomas, the highest-ever ranked Indian in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, at 17th currently, is excited to come back to India for Hero Indian open.

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Ryan Thomas`

22 March, 2019: Rayhan Thomas, the highest-ever ranked Indian in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, at 17th currently, is all excited to come back to India for the 2019 Hero Indian open next week.

The 18-year-old Dubai based Indian, who is due to join Oklahoma State University later this year, feels that he is ready for a solid performance before he moves to the US for college golf. “I have played the event before, and feel that my game is in the right place to do well,” said Thomas, who has been hailed by the likes of Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, who have played with him at the Dubai Desert Classic in recent years.

Thomas has been given one of the amateur spots to the storied event, which is now in its 55th edition.

Thomas, who has been ranked as high as No. 12 in the world, was also a silver medallist at the star-studded Asia Pacific Amateur Championships in Singapore last year.

“That performance and playing with pros in events in the Middle East and MENA Tour has given me immense confidence,” he said.

Thomas joins a star-studded group of amateurs at the Oklahoma State University this season. Two of his new teammates are in the Top-5 as of this week, including Viktor Hovland at No. 2 and Matthew Wolff at third, while Austin Eckroat is at 24.

Asian Tour Merit leader Jazz leads Thai challenge for Hero Indian Open

Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond hopes to get lucky in his third attempt at tackling the challenging DLF Golf and Country Club when he heads to the Hero Indian Open next week.

The 23-year-old Thai has been riding on a rich vein of form, claiming his third Asian Tour title at the season-opener in Singapore in January and finishing inside the top-10 on six other occasions in his last nine starts on the Asian Tour.

He will spearhead the strong Thai challenge, which will be a major force to be reckoned with, alongside Tour winners Poom Saksansin, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, Panuphol Pittayarat and veteran Prayad Marksaeng at the US$1.75 million event.

Jazz, who sits atop the current Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity standings, came in tied-34th in his first attempt at the DLF Golf and Country Club when he played the Hero Indian Open in 2017 before missing the halfway cut on the same venue and in the same event last year.

“It’s a tough course, everyone knows that. It’s a beast, very narrow and tough, so I’ll be happy to even just make the cut this time,” said Jazz, whose best finish at the event came in 2016 where he finished tied-15th on a different course.

Placed 78th on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), Jazz stands an outside chance to qualify for The Masters next month. The talented Thai, who is currently playing in the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, needs to break into the world’s top-50 following the Hero Indian Open next week.

Alternatively, he could potentially earn an invite to The Masters, just like reigning Order of Merit champion Shubhankar Sharma last year, should he perform well in Malaysia and India these two weeks.

“My game is a lot different coming into these two weeks so I can’t wait to try and conquer the DLF course this time around. I missed the cut last year but I’m still looking forward to a new challenge next week,” added Jazz.

Also relishing the challenge at the Indian showpiece is two-time Asian Tour winner Panuphol, who has been in a relatively consistent form so far this season.

“It is a huge event for me so I am really looking forward to next week. I have been pretty consistent this year, although I admit it’s not my best golf. But I have put in the hard work and I am excited to take on big events like the Hero Indian Open,” said the 26-year-old Panuphol.

Missing out on a top-10 finish last year after making a double-bogey on the 14th hole in the final round, Panuphol will seize his chance at redemption on the notorious par-four that has been ranked as the toughest hole in the tournament for the last two consecutive editions.

“It is an interesting golf course, I would say it’s very challenging but fun to play as well. I would love to play well because it is a huge event. I made a double-bogey on hole 14 and bogeyed the 17th on the final day last year, if not I could have had a top-10 result so hopefully I will do better this time,” added Panuphol, who settled for an eventual tied-16th result.

An elite 156-man field from 28 countries, consisting of more than 40 Tour winners and seven Order of Merit champions, will be vying for top honours at the prestigious event, which will once again be promoted by the Indian Golf Union, who join the Asian Tour and European Tour in co-sanctioning the tournament.