Josh Hill One Shot Clear Of A Second MENA Tour Victory At Journey To Jordan Final

Brilliant Dubai-born 15-year old Josh Hill is in pole position to win for a second time in just 35-days on the MENA Tour.

Hill produced a second round 69 to lead the Tour’s year-end event by a shot on the Greg Norman-designed Ayla course in Jordan.

It was just 35 days ago, Hill set a new ‘Official World Golf Ranking’ golf record in becoming the youngest-ever, at 15 -years 6 months and 27 days in capturing the Al Ain Open. 

Now Hill looks primed to win again at the Tour’s Journey to Jordan final.

Chasing the teenager is Harry Konig (65), Jamie Rutherford (67), Joshua Grenville-Wood (70) and Sweden’s Gabriel Axell (70) and all four professionals looking to deny Hill to secure themselves a first win on the MENA Tour.

Dubai-born Josh Hill heads into the final round of the Journey to Jordan leading by one. (Photos of Josh by Masan Ali/Golf Digest Middle East)

Sweden’s Henric Sturehed, winner of the Tour Championship when it was last played in 2017, shot a two-under par 70 to take solo sixth place at 137, while Luke Joy stayed in touch with a 71 that gave him the seventh place at 138.

South Africa’s MG Keyser, the Journey to Jordan professional leader, was at four-under par 140 after a 71, but with his nearest challengers Australia’s Daniel Gaunt (73) and England’s James Allan (72) not making any significant move, he looks on course to win the Professional Journey To Jordan (Order of Merit).

The 15-year-old Hill, who beat the record of Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa to become the youngest winner of an OWGR-recognised event last month at the Al Ain Open by Arena, got off to a hot start and was four-under par through seven, and even though his hitting deserted him a bit on the back nine, he managed to make enough birdies to offset his mistakes.

“I was doing everything so well for the first seven holes, and then made a stupid bogey on the ninth. Struggled a bit after that but delighted to finish at three-under on a tough day. I made a three-putt bogey on the 12th hole, but apart from that, I putted really well today and that really saved the day,” said Hill, who made seven birdies and ended with a bogey on 18th.

Hill felt the experience of his Al Ain Open by Arena win, even though he started the final day three shots behind the leader, will help him as he dons the role of a front-runner.

“It will be a different challenge and I think what would definitely help is if I get off to a good start like I did in Al Ain. But that win proved to me that I have what it takes to win a tournament at this level and that would be a good, positive thought in my mind,” he added.

Konig said he was ‘plodding’ along and making some good up-and-downs until he decided to get aggressive on the back nine. The move paid rich dividends as he finished with five birdies in his last six holes for the low round of the day.

“I missed making a birdie on the par-5 17th hole, where I missed a putt from five feet. That was slightly disappointing, but I did make a birdie on the 18th which was playing very tough in this wind. I think it is the first time I have made a birdie on that hole,” said Konig.

The 27-year-old Rutherford came to Jordan having missed getting into the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School by just one shot.

“I did not putt well at all that day in Spain and it was very disappointing. I went back home and mostly did putting for two weeks before coming here. In a sense, it is good that I had this tournament to play and an opportunity to bounce right back,” said Rutherford.

Axell, who lost in a play-off at the Ras Al Khaimah Open by Arena, will try and make amends in Thursday’s final round.

“It’s never good to finish with a bogey, but it wasn’t easy out there. However, I am playing some good golf and there is no reason why I should not finish one better than what I did at Ras Al Khaimah,” said Axell, who made three birdies in a row before making the turn.

Grenville-Wood, who finished second in Bahrain earlier this year, said: “It was a grind out there, especially on the back nine. I am pretty pleased with the way I kept it going and kept hitting steady shots. I made a pretty good par on the 18th. So, one shot back, I will take it.”

FOOTNOTE …………

Hill has been recently named among a stellar cast of nominees for the 2019 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 15-year-old England boys’ representative became the youngest winner of an Official World Golf Ranking event, eclipsing Japan’s ‘Bashful Prince’ Ryo Ishikawa for the world record, when he captured the MENA Tour’s Al Ain Open late last month.

Mountain biker Charlie Aldridge, rugby league player Caitlin Beevers, skateboarder Sky Brown, boxer Caroline Dubios, Welsh artistic gymnast Bethany Paull, Taekwondo exponent Aaliyah Powell, kayaker Ottilie Robinson-Shaw and Para-swimmers Toni Shaw and Maisie Summers-Newton.

“Everyone at the MENA Tour by Arena is obviously over the moon that Josh has been included as one of The Top 10 BBC Young Sports Personalities of the Year for 2019,” said the David Spencer, the regional Pro-Am circuit’s strategic advisor. “Exactly like the MENA Tour by Arena, Josh was born in Dubai and is young, hard-working and trying to find his way in a very competitive landscape.

“We are intensely proud and privileged to have Josh as a member of the MENA Tour and he is emblematic of the fact that your dreams are the blueprint of reality.”

The Young Sports Personality of the Year winner will be announced at the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards on November 24 and will go on to attend BBC Sports Personality of the Year in Aberdeen on December 1

 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *