17-Year-Old Josh Hill Makes Abu Dhabi Cut Two Years On From Defeating Brooks Koepka

Josh Hill recently made his first DP World Tour cut, two years after beating Brooks Koepka over a nine-hole match

Josh Hill pictured
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might expect English golf prodigy Josh Hill to take everything in his stride – especially after becoming the youngest player to win a tournament offering world ranking points as a 15-year-old and beating Brooks Koepka in a nine-hole challenge a year later. 

But Hill, now 17, is still buzzing after making the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in spectacular style, confirming he has the game to compete with the golfing elite once he decides to turn professional. Hill returned to the course to complete a second round halted by bad light knowing he had to birdie three of his four remaining holes to make the cut – and he did just that with birdies at 15, 17, and 18. 

It was another demonstration of his talent and self-belief. But the day when he turns pro is some way off, with Hill saying he has no plans to do a “Justin Rose” just yet and join the paid ranks before his 18th birthday. Instead, the youngster – who divides his time between Dubai, where his dad is a prominent osteopath, and Woodbury Park in Devon – is facing a tough choice after receiving offers of golf scholarships from a host of top colleges in the United States. 

He said: “I get asked a lot about turning professional, but there’s no rush, especially with some great offers to go to the States on the table. I’ll talk it over with my family and decide what comes next, but for now I just want to enjoy the opportunities I’ve been given. 

“I qualified for the Abu Dhabi Championship by winning the Abu Dhabi Amateur, and I’ve also got invites to play the Dubai Desert Classic, and the Saudi Arabia Invitational. And having made the cut once, I want more of the same. This was huge for my confidence, and in terms of showing that my game is good enough to compete at this level. It really was a case of moving up to another level. 

“The thing I was really pleased with was that I didn’t just ease off and pat myself on the back after earning the right to play the final 36 holes. I made six birdies and an eagle to shoot 69 in the third round straight after finishing off the second round, and if I hadn’t made a couple of double bogeys by being over-aggressive it would have been even better. 

"It was disappointing to finish with a 75, especially as I bogeyed three of the last four this time. But it was still a great week, and even though I was aiming for better than a share of 58th I still managed to finish a couple of shots in front of Collin Morikawa. That’s not bad, is it?” 

Beating world No.2 Morikawa is a great follow-up to his victory over Koepka in their nine hole challenge two years ago, when the four time Major champion arrived in Abu Dhabi as world No.1. 

They were pitted against each other by the tournament organisers to reward Hill for earning a place in the record books as the youngest player ever to win a ranking event, when he shot final round 62 to win the Al Ain Open on the Middle East-based Mena Tour. 

Koepka commented: “He beat me fair and square, and he obviously has a ton of talent. I don't know what I was doing at 15 – causing trouble probably! But I do know my golf was nowhere near as far along as Josh's.” 

Hill admitted he was able to dine out on that win for quite a while, but says his performance in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship was far more significant. He added: “Don’t get me wrong, It’s great to be able to say you’ve beaten the world’s best player, even if it wasn’t in a proper tournament. And I just learned so much from Brooks. I thought it was fascinating when he said that, typically, he only attacked four or five pins each round, playing for the middle of the greens for the rest of the time.  

“That was really interesting, coming from the world No.1. And I’ve tried to manage my game the way he does, unless you absolutely have to go for all-out aggression, like I did at the end of the second round in Abu Dhabi. I think this latest performance showed I’ve improved a lot over the last two years. And it’s exciting to see what might happen next.” 

No-one who witnessed Hill’s dazzling display in Abu Dhabi will argue with that last remark. 

David Facey
David Facey

David brings a wealth of experience to Golf Monthly as a freelance contributor having spent more than two decades covering the game as The Sun's golf correspondent. Prior to that, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Mail. David has covered the last 12 Ryder Cups and every Masters tournament since 1999. A popular and highly-respected name in the press tents around the world, David has built close relationships with many of the game's leading players and officials.