TANTALLON teenager Calum Hill has experienced both joy and pain in the Scottish Boys’ Championship, the traditional start of the domestic golf season.
Two years ago, on his own doorstep, Hill was the event’s surprise package as he picked up a bronze medal for reaching the semi-finals at Dunbar.
But, 12 months later at Murcar Links, his hopes of improving on that splendid effort were crushed as the North Berwick youngster suffered the bitter disappointment of a first-round defeat.
Despite that blip, Hill has been installed as one of the eight seeds for this year’s event, which tees off at a brand-new venue, Monifieth, on Monday.
Craigmillar Park’s Fraser Christie, who enjoyed a good run last year, has the honour of hitting the opening blow this time around on the Angus course. He is up against Barassie’s Euan Henderson in a match due to tee off at 6.45am – four hours before Hill launches his title bid against Craig Orr from Cochrane Castle.
“I’m taking a different approach than last year in the sense that, first and foremost, I am going to give my opponent respect,” said Hill.
“I’ve been up to play the course at Monifieth a few times and I like it. You have to be accurate off the tee and also with your approaches as it is quite tricky around the greens.”
A member of the Merchiston Castle Golf Academy, Hill is heading into the event on the back of an outstanding effort earlier in the year down in Cornwall.
Playing in the inaugural University of Exeter Invitational at Trevose, he finished fourth overall and also helped the Independent Schools Golf Association side beat the likes of Stirling to win the team title. “That was a good performance,” he added. “I’ve gained confidence from that.”
Ewan Scott, last year’s beaten finalist from St Andrews, heads into the event as a strong favourite after producing a string of eye-catching performances around the globe over the winter.
He is seeded to meet Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil in next Saturday’s final, but the odds on that happening are long as it is a week that traditionally throws up shocks.
Indeed, along with Hill, the likes of Dalmahoy duo Murray Naysmith and Callum Cochrane as well as Alexander Wilson (The Renaissance) will set out with high hopes of becoming the first Lothians winner since Baberton’s Paul Ferrier at Dunbar in 2007.
“The likes of Euan Bowden (Glen), Lewis Bain (Musselburgh) and Chris Curran (Harburn) also have the ability to do some serious damage,” predicted Lothians boys’ convenor Paul Gibson. “This is not to say that the many others teeing it up are simply making up the numbers.
“We have many younger players who will benefit from the experience and, while 2013 may be a bit too soon, they can use this year’s experience to benefit in years to come.”