8am Round-Up: Scottish champion rubbing shoulders with stars in Dubai

Tiger Woods tees of at the eighth at Emirates Golf Club in this morning's Omega Dubai Desert Classic pro-am. Picture: Getty Images
Tiger Woods tees of at the eighth at Emirates Golf Club in this morning's Omega Dubai Desert Classic pro-am. Picture: Getty Images
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The reigning Scottish Boys’ Open Stroke-Play champion is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson in Dubai this week.

Rayhan Thomas, the UAE’s No 1 amateur, claimed the coveted Scottish Golf under-18s title last summer at Lanark, winning at the second extra hole in a play-off.

He joined Stephen Gallacher, the 1991 and 1992 champion, and 2001 winner Scott Jamieson on that event’s roll of honour and now lines up in the same European Tour event as them at Emirates Golf Club.

“I’ve been wanting to play this event for a while now,” said Indian teenager Thomas, who will see his dream come true on the back of being crowned as top amateur on the MENA Tour last season. “I’ve been coming out to watch this event since I was 12, and it’s great to be here.

“I know this place like the back of my hand and hopefully that serves me well this week.

“You always put a little pressure on yourself because you expect something, but as long as I just play my best and stick to my routines, I’ll be fine.”

Thomas is making his second appearance in this season’s Desert Swing on the European Tour, having also played in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship a fortnight ago.

He missed the cut following rounds of 72 and 75 but said: “Abu Dhabi was good for confidence, just to be around those guys.

“It’s always a bit intimidating when you play a European Tour event and it’s great get used to those quicker greens and thicker rough.”

Like a number of others in this week’s field, Thomas is excited about playing in the same event as Woods, a two-time Desert Classic champion.

“He’s a huge role model for me,” he admitted. “I’ve probably watched every major of his on YouTube and I look at him as one of the greatest athletes of all time.”

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Three GB&I squad members - Craig Howie, Craig Ross and Connor Syme - are among the eight Scottish players seeking South African success over the next few weeks.

The group are playing in four major events on the South African circuit, as well as taking part in a triangular match against the South African Golf Development Board and the South African Golf Association.

Kirkhill man Ross has been out in the Rainbow Nation since playing in the SA Open, which was a reward for winning the South African Amateur Championship on the same trip last year.

As well as Peebles player Howie and Drumoig’s Syme, he is now being joined by another experienced campaigner, Liam Johnston of Dumfries & County, as well as four teenagers - Eric McIntosh (Bruntsfield Links), Calum Fyfe (Cawder), Sam Locke (Banchory) and Jamie Stewart (Old Ranfurly).

Seven of the players will compete in the South African Strokeplay, Cape Province, South African Amateur and the African Amateur, with Syme joining the group for the final two events.

“It’s again a good run of events for all of us in South Africa and we’ll all be pushing each other on to win them,” said Ross.

“We’ve certainly taken a liking to the South African Amateur, in particular, and I think one of us could win it again this year.”

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Irishman Brendan McGovern stormed into a six-shot lead at the halfway stage in the European Senior Tour Qualifying School final in Portugal.

It followed him carding a second successive five-under 66 on the Pinta Course at Pestana Golf Resort.

McGovern, who played in the Tartan Tour’s P&H Championship at The Renaissance Club last year, was flawless in his second circuit in an event that will see the top five after 72 holes secure cards.

The chances of the two Scots in the field getting into the mix look slim, with Fraser Mann (73-76) sitting joint-45th while ex-Downfield pro Kenny Hutton (77-77) is 66th.

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The Ladies European Tour Access Series has unveiled a 2017 schedule that features a minimum of 12 tournaments in nine countries across Europe.

It will be headlined by the Jabra Ladies Open at Evian Resort Golf Course in France on June 1-3.

That event a €50,000 prize fund and will also double as a European qualifier for the Evian Championship, with two spots available in the season’s fifth major at the same venue in September.

Now in its eighth year, the LET Access Series season begins with the Terre Blanche Ladies Open near Nice in France from March 31-April 2.

That tournament was the first LETAS event to be played in 2010 and will be held for the sixth time.

Pamela Pretswell, the top Scot on the LET Tour for the last two years, used the Access Series to cut her teeth in the paid ranks.

Another Scot, Michele Thomson, also gained promotion to the main Tour last season off the development circuit, helped by a victory in Spain.

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Scotland and England are set to face off for the first time in Footgolf.

A new instalment in the Auld Enemies rivalry will take place Palacerigg Golf Course in Cumbernauld this summer.