Calum Hill makes it back-to-back Scottish success with Cazoo Classic win
While delighted for his compatriot and stablemate as Forrest landed his breakthrough win on the circuit, it had been a sore one for Hill at Fairmont St Andrews as he let a two-shot lead with 10 holes to play slip from his grasp.
However, the 26-year-old Kirkcaldy-born player didn’t have to wait long to make amends as he produced a calm and composed final-day effort to join not only Forrest but also Spaniard Nacho Elvira and Englishman Daniel Gavins as recent first-time winners on the circuit.
“It feels brilliant, very happy,” he said. “Just happy how I managed to finish off those last nine holes and come out on top. It was fractionally nervy having just the one shot in it, but delighted.
“This year I’ve been in a few good positions and not had the strongest of Sundays. Last week was very promising to me, I felt very comfortable and just had a little blunder around the turn.
“This week I wouldn’t say I was in as good a position being three back at the start of the day, but it’s hard to win a golf tournament. I managed to stick in and perform nicely, and win the tournament.”
It was the first time that Scots had landed successive victories on the circuit since 2012, when Paul Lawrie won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles then fellow Aberdonian Richie Ramsay claimed the Omega European Masters seven days later at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland. “That’s cool to hear,” said Hill of that particular feat.
Three behind Dane Rasmus Hojgaard at the start of the day, Hill’s hopes suffered an early dent with a dropped shot at the fourth, but he then reeled off six birdies in the next 11 holes.
With Frenchman Alexander Levy having posted the clubhouse target after a closing 64, Hill had got his nose in front with the last of those gains at the par-5 15th and he wasn’t going to be denied on this occasion.
The Crook of Devon-based player made a brilliant par save from 10 feet at the 17th after finding a deep greenside bunker before sealing the deal with a rock-solid closing par for a last-day 67 and a 16-under 272 total.
“That was a peach,” he said of the crucial par save at the penultimate hole. “In that bunker you see where the flag is but then you take your stance and you can’t see anything.
“I thought I hit it a little firm and it ended up nine, ten feet beyond the flag. Brilliant putt that went right in the middle. I needed that one and it was great I was able to do it.”
On looking cool as he played the 18th, he added: “Relatively comfortable, trying not to get ahead of myself. I felt myself doing that at Fairmont, I started to get ahead and picking up the trophy before I even had it in my hands.
“So it was important to stay focused and just think about the present. Drive in the fairway, that second shot isn't easy and just a bit too long, that putt is not a gimme. I just tried to say present and focus on what I needed to do.”
Worth around £160,000, the win lifted Hill 10 spots to 22nd in the Race to Dubai, while he is also set to break into the world’s top 100 for the first time.
This success came on the back of three Challenge Tour triumphs, as well as some other successes in the US early on in his professional career, having embarked on that following a spell at Western New Mexico University.
“It’s brilliant,” he said of having proved he can win at every level in the paid ranks. “You want it to become kind of habitual, become a process you’re comfortable in and you can manage to accomplish it at every level you play at.
“It took a little longer to get it down here, but I’m happy with how I felt and my last nine holes and how I handled that situation. Hopefully I can keep pushing on and when I get in this circumstance again feel as comfortable as I was today.”