What were you doing at the age of 15?
English prodigy Josh Hill, taking a break from his GCSE studies, warmed up for his European Tour debut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday by taking on world No 1 Brooks Koepka in a nine-hole friendly – and beating him.
‘I know it’s not a tournament but it’s still nice to say you beat the best player on the planet,’ said Hill, following his one-hole success. ‘I was a bit scared at first because when you see him he’s so big you think he’s going to knock you out. But he was so nice and helpful.’
Koepka, preparing for his first tournament in three months following knee surgery, was equally effusive. He said: ‘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.
Josh Hill became the youngest winner of an official world-ranking event last October
‘I’m sure he enjoyed getting the better of me, as he should. He’s a good player, he strikes it well and putts really well and he asks good questions. In his shoes, I’d have been afraid to ask but he wanted advice about how to handle the week, and it’s important to pick a good player’s mind. It’s going to be cool to see how he develops.’
Hill, currently an amateur who plays off a handicap of plus five, entered the record books last October when he shot a final round 62 to win the Al Ain Open in the Middle East, becoming the youngest player ever to win a professional event offering world ranking points.
Already a strapping 6ft 3in, he splits his time between Dubai, where his father Russell is an osteopath, and Woodbury Park in Devon, a course once owned by motor racing legend and keen golfer, Nigel Mansell.
The teenager warmed up for his European Tour debut by taking on world No 1 Brooks Koepka
The chance to practise with Koepka came about through the American’s long-game coach