Josh Hill in action in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Josh Hill in action in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Image Credit: WAM

There are certain moments in a fledgling sporting career that prove pivotal.

Think Pele bursting on to the scene as a teenager at the 1958 Fifa World Cup in Sweden, Michael Owen scoring a wonder goal for England or Michael Phelps smashing records in the pool at the 200 Olympics - all before they thought about their 19th birthday.

We witnessed another such moment this weekend in Abu Dhabi as young Josh Hill, 17, defied the odds and the unforgiving Yas Links golf course to become the first UAE-born athlete to make the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

And he did it in some style.

This was the time the boy became a man.

Born and bred in Dubai, Hill has been a regular local light, defeating professionals twice hice age on the UAE circuit, but now he is mixing it with the big boys from around the globe.

When bad light cut short his day on a stormy Friday on Yas Island, he looked well out of the running on six-over and well outside the cut line. However, the tenacious youngster got up at 5.30am on Saturday and reeled off three birdies on his remaining six holes to ensure he made the weekend at a tournament where such names as Masters champion Danny Willett went home early.

He was not done there.

After a quick shower and change, Hill was back in action on the notorious fairways at and carded an incredible 69 to romp up the leaderboard, leaving the likes of world No. 2 Collin Morikawa trailing in his wake.

A solid Sunday put him just outside the top 50 in a field of 132, which included stellar names past and present such as Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Henrik Stenson, DP World Tour champ Morikawa and four-time major winner McIlroy.

With an invitation to the Dubai Desert Classic already in the bag, we can look forward to more delights from this up-and-coming Dubai driving force and — quite possibly — the UAE’s first real golfing star.