Buoyed by an encouraging start to the 2020 campaign, Calum Hill has set his sights on emulating stablemate and fellow Scot Bob MacIntyre by being crowned as European Tour Rookie of the Year.
Hill, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in second spot on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, is currently 16th in the Race to Dubai, having recorded top-20 finishes in both the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
The 25-year-old has now moved on to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where he is flying the Saltire along with Daniel Young in the Australian PGA Championship, which starts at the RACV Royal Pines Resort tomorrow.
Hill, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour, is delighted to be part of the Bounce Sport stable of players along with MacIntyre and four-time European Tour winner Stephen Gallacher, as well as Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston, Euan Walker and Jack McDonald.
Gallacher returned to winning ways in the Hero Indian Open last season, when another Scot, David Law, landed the Vic Open, while MacIntyre was a revelation as he finished 13th in the Race to Dubai in becoming the first Scot to land the Rookie of the Year title since Marc Warren in 2006.
“It’s fantastic having a group of Scottish guys, with Stevie as the experience and some of the younger guys coming through who are around my age, too,” said Hill. “To have Stevie win, Bob do great and Davey win, it’s good to see.
“My team are great at guiding me and showing me what I need to be doing. Of course the Rookie of the Year Award is on my mind, it has to be. If you’re not looking at that – especially coming from the same management group as Bob. You hope to achieve similar to what he has done. If that happens then you’re laughing. Fingers crossed.”
In only his second event as a European Tour card holder, Hill was out in front on his own at the halfway stage and still in a share of the lead heading into the final round in Mauritius before a closing 74 left him having to settle for joint 17th behind the winner, Norwegian teenager Rasmus Hojgaard.
“I can’t complain with my start to the year,” he added. “I had a chance in Mauritius but didn’t do well on the final day. As long as you can keep giving yourself chances throughout the year, I’m sure one of them will turn up. I’ve never been to Australia before. Coming here, I’ve had a great first impression, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Young is making his European Tour debut, having secured a spot in the field through the category he secured as a result of strong performance when finishing just outside the card zone in the Qualifying School in Spain last month.
Former Masters champion Adam Scott and twice defending champion Cameron Smith head a line-up that also includes American Cameron Champ and Nicolai Højgaard, the twin brother of Mauritius Open winner Rasmus.
“(Rasmus winning) is a big motivator, for sure,” said Højgaard. “I really want to do the same. I’m trying to not get carried away with his result and trying to focus a bit more on myself. If I finish second here, it’s still good. I don’t have to compare myself to him all the time.”