It turned out that Joe Jones’ decision to come to the UAE for some winter training was an inspired one as the 18-year-old wrote a bit of history last week by claiming the inaugural Junior Dubai Desert Classic. The Welsh youngster entered the competition at Emirates Golf Club — played over the same competition-standard Majlis Course as this week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic — and came out on top with a one-under 143, two-stroke victory from Adrian Larsson.
“It feels great, especially to be able to play here right before the Dubai Desert Classic,” Jones said after picking up the trophy from two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner and 2023 Europe Junior Ryder Cup captain Stephen Gallacher.
“It is really special and the event has been run so well. That makes it even better.”
The Junior Dubai Desert Classic ensured there was plenty of excitement on the course and the tournament was open to both male and female players in a mixed field. “To get have a mixed event is great and it was a great effort to have everyone playing out there together and make it fair for all competing,” said Jones, who also claimed a spot at the Adidas Golf Junior 6s Tour event in Australia with his win.
While winning the Junior Dubai Desert Classic is one thing, Jones has aspirations of competing at the DP World Tour event proper in the future — even if the strapping 6ft-plus teenager insists he has a lot of work to do.
“It is definitely a dream to get back here at some point and compete in the Dubai Desert Classic, but in order to make the grade with these guys, I need to pretty much be better at everything in my game,” he said with a chuckle.
“That’s the way golf is going, isn’t it? You’ve got to go far and then figure it out from there. I am still growing, so when we get there we will see where we are.”
Jones has been playing since he was 11 years old, and was pretty content with his performance that saw him claim top spot with an under-par score on Sunday.
“I drove very well here,” the Welsh youngster said. “At the Majlis you need to hit the fairways if you want to contend and I managed to do that and that is why I got round in the score I did.
“I have actually played some competition-standard courses this year in qualifiers and I think that helped me coming here. I don’t think I played great, if I am honest, but on a course playing as tough as this, it was good.
“Tour golf is different to a ‘normal’ course, so getting round here is a different beast.”
Jones, who is a plus-5 handicap, plans to stay as an amateur for at least another year before making any decisions on his future, adding: “I think I will take a bit more time over the next 12 months and see where my game is at, and then think about turning pro.”
On that note: Will we expect to see the name Joe Jones on the Rolex Series leaderboards in the future?
“Give it a few years and, yeah, we will get there,” he signs off with a confident air that convinces you he just well might.