MENA Tour

History-maker Hill focused on ‘staying humble’ ahead of Ras Al Khaimah Open

Josh Hill gets back to work at Tower Links ahead of the $75,000 Ras Al Khaimah Open by Arena which begins early on Monday. 

By Kent Gray
Josh Hill can’t wait to let his golf clubs do the talking again.

The Dubai teen’s life has been a whirlwind of media appointments since his historic Al Ain Open triumph last Wednesday when he eclipsed Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa as the youngest winner of an Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) event. He finally returned to his natural habitat for a practice round at Tower Links yesterday ahead of the $75,000 Ras Al Khaimah Open by Arena and it was clearly a relief after the hectic week that was.

RELATED: Hill creates world history as MENA Tour’s fourth – and youngest – amateur champion

“It just feels great to be back on a golf course. It feels like I am back home,” said Hill on the eve of the MENA Tour’s final regular-season stop.

“The last few days have been pretty crazy. I have been asked for interviews quite a few times. But I guess you have got to do them, keep level-headed and keep playing golf. I just can’t wait to get back there tomorrow.

“I did not think much of it until BBC and Sky Sports started showing it and then I thought ‘Wow, it was a pretty big achievement’. It was all over social media, so it must have been good.”

Social media has been abuzz with Hill’s achievement, the latest virtual doff of the cap coming from Japan’s ‘Bashful Prince’ himself during the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship in his homeland. Ishikawa previously held the record at 15 years and eight months before Hill fired a -17 total to win at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club aged 15 years, six months and 27 days.

RELATED: Sir Nick Faldo, Danny Willett lead tributes to new world record holder Hill

In a mouth-watering trio, Hill has been paired with the Journey To Jordan amateur Order of Merit leader Curtis Knipes and the another Englishman, Robin ‘Tiger’ Williams, who won the Journey To Jordan #2 a few weeks ago at Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba, Jordan.

Hill with countryman and fellow amateur MENA Tour winner Robin ‘Tiger’Williams. Photo: Joy Chakravarty/MENA Tour.

“I am really looking forward to this week. I have got a great group tomorrow in Robin and Curtis. What happened in Al Ain is now in the past. I am just looking forward to staying humble, playing some good golf and enjoying myself this week,” he added.

At the end of the Ras Al Khaimah Open by Arena, the ‘Penultimate Four’ incentive – a spot at the Panasonic India Open and the Thailand Open on the Asian Tour next month – will be decided. Amateur Williams leads the standings going into the week but it will be a close battle with South African professional MG Keyser, Australian journeyman Daniel Gaunt, Hill and Knipes all in the hunt.

The 54-hole tournament at Tower Links starts Monday, with the first tee time scheduled for 6.50am UAE time. The cut will be applied for the top 48 pros and ties after the second round.

‘PENULTIMATE FOUR’ STANDING (Top Five, after Al Ain Open by Arena)
1.            Robin ‘Tiger’ Williams (Am, ENG) 18,918
2.            MG Keyser (SA) 17,424
3.            Daniel Gaunt (AUS) 16,039
4.            Josh Hill (Am, ENG) 15,700                                         
5.            Curtis Knipes (Am, ENG) 15,250           

                              

Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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