Jones makes Junior Desert Classic history

Welsh talent tames Emirates Golf Club course to become the first champion as Anca Mateiu is judged best girl player



The winners with EGA's Walid Al Attar and Akram Skaik and former two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner, Stephen Callacher. — Supplied photo
The winners with EGA's Walid Al Attar and Akram Skaik and former two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner, Stephen Callacher. — Supplied photo
by

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sun 22 Jan 2023, 8:43 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Jan 2023, 7:34 PM

Joe Jones demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the best young talents in Welsh golf when he treated the Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis course to some of the most sublime golf it has seen from a youngster to win the inaugural Junior Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

A strapping 18-year-old who boasts he is strongest off the tee, Joe shot a one-under par 143 to claim his spot in the UAE’s junior golf history.

Sweden’s Adrian Larsson was in the EGA’s majestic clubhouse after carding a one-over 145 to finish runner-up while Denmark’s Viktor Kofod Olsen returned a two-over 146 to take the third spot.

If the inspiring performances of these young men deserved to have been accompanied by violins and cymbals, then the loudest applause was reserved for 13-year-old Anca Mirela Mateiu, who emerged as the Leading Female player with a score of four-over par 148.

EGA officals with 13-year-old Anca Mateiu, leading girls player at the Junior Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Supplied
EGA officals with 13-year-old Anca Mateiu, leading girls player at the Junior Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Supplied

While the Dubai Desert Classic was born in 1989, this was the first time that a Junior Dubai Desert Classic was sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation and featured 72 mixed female and male players over two rounds of golf at the Faldo and Majlis courses.

Commenting on his performance, Jones, who has already sampled success in Britain by winning the Faldo Series England Championship and St. David’s Gold Cross. said: “I obviously feel great, it’s such a cool event especially to play in it just before the Dubai Desert Classic. It's really special.

“This is obviously good for golf and to get us both (boys and girls) playing on this course, and making it fair, is a very good effort.”

Jones, who said he was committed one-day turning pro and even possibly playing in the Dubai Desert Classic in the future, added: “I hope to be back here at some point in my career to play the Classic, but first I need to get better in everything.

Joe Jones in action at the first-ever Junior Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Supplied
Joe Jones in action at the first-ever Junior Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Supplied

“I’m not sure about college, but I want to keep playing some more amateur golf before I hopefully turn pro. When I’m not sure,” said Jones, who plays off a five handicap.

“This week I drove really well. The fairways are so tight and the rough is so thick but I managed to get around.”

Mateiu, who showed a maturity way beyond her teenage years, talked about her golfing experience and her dream to one day become a pro herself.

“With all the best young players here it was kind of an elite event,” she said. “It was special, none of the other competitions are this good.

“The course was pretty good too. The roughs were really thick, I can say that with my own experience, and the greens were really fast. But the conditions were really good,” added Mateiu, who was Girls Champion for the 2022 Emirates Golf Club Junior Open.

“At first I felt it was a bit of a disadvantage playing against the boys but I think I played really well in the end and I'm happy with my game.”

Stephen Gallacher, the only golfer to win back-to-back titles at the Dubai Desert Classic when he triumphed in 2013-2014, joined EGA’s Walid Al Attar and Akram Skaik and Simon Corkill, Executive Tournament Director, to distribute prizes to the winners, which included golf kits and airline tickets.

“I’m so chuffed that the kids can experience tournament level competition like this, it really really tests their golf game,” said Callacher. “There were some pretty good scores out there.

Joe Jones from Wales with the Junior Dubai Desert Classic trophy. Photo: Supplied
Joe Jones from Wales with the Junior Dubai Desert Classic trophy. Photo: Supplied

“The experience the kids get is invaluable. If you do well you know you will have the inspiration to try to go further in the sport.

“It’s just magic to give the youngsters a taste of this venue and to get the participation levels up.

“Hopefully there is a new Tiger Woods or a Nelly Korda on the way. The kids get a buzz playing the Faldo and the Majlis. You look at their faces and then you look at the scores and you can see that they are not daunted by the experience. It's great for golf.”

Results

Junior Dubai Desert Classic

Champion: Joe Jones (Wales) - Score: 143 (-1 par)

2nd Place: Adrian Larsson (Sweden) - Score: 145 (+1)

3rd Place: Victor Kofod Olsen (Denmark) - Score: 146 (+2)

Leading Male/Female Player: Anca Mirela Mateiu 13yo - Score: 148 (+4 par)


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