David Cannon/Getty Images
Hill in action during the second round of the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at The Emirates Golf Club.
By Kent Gray
Josh Hill had hoped to slip under the media radar this UK summer, freeing himself of added pressure in his efforts to refine his pro-tour bound game and importantly reignite competitive embers dulled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The only problem with that commendable plan is that the 17-year-old Dubai-based English Boys’ representative works far too hard and possesses way too much game to stay in stealth mode for long.
After a rare missed cut at the Scottish Men’s Open Championship at Southerness G.C. late last month, Hill’s name is back in lights and at the Home of Golf no less. The world record holder as the youngest winner of an OWGR event will enter the final day of the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy on Sunday just one stroke off compatriot Charlie Thornton’s halfway pace.
After an opening-round 70 on the Jubilee course, Hill joined Ireland’s Richard Knightly on -6, 138 courtesy of a 68 in his second round on the Old Course on Saturday. It left the duo a shot shy of Thornton (66-71) heading into the final two rounds, both on the fabled Old Course.
Hill’s four-under circuit of golf’s spiritual birthplace was the second equal best score of Saturday’s second round and three strokes better than all but one player in the top-13.
That will undoubtedly give the MENA Tour winner confidence heading into what could be a pivotal and especially memorable Sunday of his amateur career. At worst, it is golden opportunity for Hill to skyrocket up the World Amateur Golf Rankings from his current position of 313th, down from career-best ranking of 257th.
The top 40 players and ties play the final round of the St Andrews Trophy which boasts former U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup star Justin Rose among its former champions.
Established in 1989, the event is considered one of the world’s top amateur tournaments and has served as a launch pad for major championship-bound careers including Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington, Rose, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari. Lee Westwood is another former starter in an event that ranks as one of the strongest in the British Isles outside of The Amateur Championship, the 126th edition of which Hill intends contesting at Nairn, also in Scotland, from June 14.