MENA Tour

With a dream Desert Classic start locked in, teen Josh Hill lauds MENA Tour for helping him ‘grow as a player’

Journey to Jordan Amateur and Professional champions, Josh Hill (left) and MG Keyser. (Photo: Joy Chakravarty/MENA Tour by Arena)

By Kent Gray
Josh Hill couldn’t pull off the finish he had hoped for to cap his breakout rookie season on the MENA Tour but will ride his golfing fairytale into 2020 nonetheless.

The 15-year-old Dubai-based amateur had the chance to win his second title on the regional developmental circuit in three starts but faded from the lead through 36 holes to a share on 9th with a closing 76 at the Journey to Jordan Tour Championship on Thursday. There was a bittersweet finish in Aqaba with the top-1o seeing Hill overhaul fellow English teen Curtis Knipes to top the season-long amateur Journey to Jordan order of merit standings and secure a start in January’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic in the process.

That prospect alone helped Hill get over the disappointment of his four-over final round at Ayla Golf Club.

“I have been to every [Dubai Desert Classic] tournament since I was a five- or a six-year-old and remember getting amazed by the number of people that walked with Tiger Woods’ group when I was there the first time…I am very excited and looking forward to playing at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic,” said Hill who become the youngest winner of an OWGR event when he captured the Al Ain Open in last October.

“It’s been an amazing season for me, one in which I have learned a lot on the MENA Tour playing with all the professionals. I think I have grown as a player.

“I wanted to finish top-10 in at least a couple of tournaments this season, but I have surpassed my expectations. The win at Al Ain was definitely the highlight of the season.”

Top 10 amateur Journey to Jordan standings.

MG Keyser, meanwhile, didn’t have the best finish at Aqaba like Hill. A closing 79 saw the South African finish T-36 in the season decider but it was still sufficient to claim the professional Journey to Jordan title even though his nearest challengers for the honour – Australia’s Daniel Gaunt (69) and England’s James Allan (72) – finished tied for 16th.

The final pro J2J standings.

Keyser finished with total earnings of $45,153 from the season and knows the feat has the potential to change his future. As well as the Desert Classic, Keyser has earned invites to the Made in Denmark and the Diamond Cup in Japan.

“I think one of the things every professional golfer looks for is consistency and that was one of the most pleasing aspect of my season,” said Keyser who went through the season without missing a cut.

“I am planning to play more in Europe and this gives me two starts on the European Tour and also in the Diamond Cup in Japan. These are great opportunities and it is now up to me to make the most out of it.”

The 2020 season of the MENA Tour begins with two stages of Q-School, to be played back at Ayla Golf Club, from January 20-23 and January 26-29.

 

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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