Calum Hill off to strong start in Betfred British Masters at The Belfry

Calum Hill upstaged compatriot Bob MacIntyre, the pre-tournament favourite, on the opening day of the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry.

Calum Hill chips on to the 18th green during the first round of The Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

Playing in consecutive groups at the Ryder Cup venue, Hill started with a five-under 67 to sit one off the clubhouse lead as MacIntyre carded a 71 on his return following a three-week break.

Hill, who has been knocking at the door over the past few weeks in his quest for a maiden European Tour win, stormed to the turn in four-under after starting at the 10th.

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The 26-year-old matched MacIntyre’s birdie-3 at the 11th in the game ahead before chipping in for a 2 at the next hole.

Hill then conjured up a brilliant up and down from the left of the short 14th to save par before moving to three-under as he rolled in a 15-footer for a birdie-4 at the 15th.

The three-time Challenge Tour winner hit the hole with a birdie attempt from the back fringe at the next but wasn’t to be denied at the next after safely finding the green in two.

Just off the fairway on the right at the last, he left himself in a tricky spot front right to a right pin position at the last before salvaging the situation with a superb flop shot.

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After then picking up a birdie at the second, the Scot dropped his only shot of the day with a 6 at the third before following a birdie at the eighth with another impressive par save to finish.

MacIntyre, the highest-ranked player in the field, gave back his early gain at the 15th after a spot of tree trouble then didn’t birdie the 17th from the middle of the fairway.

The 24-year-old was unlucky to see his approach at the 18th go long as it looked over the flag but, like Hill, showed a lovely touch around the green to avoid any spillage.

MacIntyre, who is gearing up for next week’s US PGA Championship, was back in red figures after a birdie-3 at the fourth.

Austrian Matthias Schwab set the clubhouse target with an effort that contained seven birdies, including five in six holes around the turn.

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