Calum Hill eyeing PGA Championship after Saudi International success

Calum Hill eager to ‘keep the pedal on the gas’ with PGA Championship debut in his sights after holding his own against Dustin Johnson and Co in Saudi Arabia… as he takes inspiration from fellow Scot Robert MacIntyre

  • Calum Hill enjoyed his best-placed finish at the Saudi International last month
  • He went toe-to-toe with Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Co to finish tied fourth
  • But the ambitious Scot isn’t getting carried away and hopes more is to come 
  • Hill wants to make his own mark after seeing fellow Scot Robert MacIntyre’s rise

For Calum Hill, his preparations for last month’s Saudi International were somewhat up in the air but the ambitious Scot didn’t let that uncertainty faze him as he made his breakthrough on the European Tour.

Hill earned a very late call-up to the Saudi International and with his younger brother Ian, who is usually on his bag, having already flown home following the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, he also had to scramble to find a caddie.

In the end Hill teamed up with veteran caddie Phil Morbey, who helped Ian Woosnam win the Masters in 1991, and what followed was a week that he will hope to look back on as a significant moment in his career.

Calum Hill enjoyed his best finish to date on the European Tour at the Saudi International

The 26-year-old finished in a tie for fourth, his best result on the European Tour, and it was made extra special that he held his own against the best in the business – with world No 1 Dustin Johnson reigning supreme ahead of Justin Rose and Tony Finau.

‘It was a really good week,’ Hill told Sportsmail. ‘I was a bit uncertain if I was playing in the event or not and ended up finding out on Tuesday that I was in and I got the last place in the field which was good.  

‘It was just really nice to put myself into a decent position going into the weekend and continuing on from there and not falling back which I have done in the past. So it was good to follow up a decent start with a decent finish as well.

‘Obviously everyone was very happy, and I got a number of texts and calls saying congratulations and stuff like that which was nice. 

‘The names in the field makes it a bit cooler in the sense that I was up there with some names that you wouldn’t usually compete against throughout a European Tour schedule.’ 

But Hill, the current world No 146 from Crook of Devon in Perthshire, is not getting carried away and knows that he must follow his Saudi success up if he wants to reach the short-term target he has set – competing in the PGA Championship come May, which would mean he would have to rise into the top 100 to qualify.

With the experience of Phil Morbey on the bag, the 26-year-old Scot finished in a tie for fourth 

Hill finished three shots behind winner and world No 1 Dustin Johnson in Saudi Arabia

He added: ‘It is obviously nice to have the fourth placed finish. I think I was more happy about that than what tournament it was, who it was against. 

‘But yeah it has sunk in. It is not something that I have hung onto or been amazed by. It was just a nice week and something that you want to build on and continue doing well going forward. 

Next up for Hill is the Qatar Masters between March 11-14 before two events in Keyna.

‘I think it will just be nice to build on the start of the year. I have only got into two events, and the starts have been decent, so it will be nice to continue that early form and push forward a little bit. So yeah I want to keep the pedal on the gas and push forward, and have a couple of good weeks.

‘Short term for this season, I would just like to make it to DP World. I think if you do that, then you have had a lot of good things go your way throughout the course of the year so the world ranking would have shot up a bit. 

Hill has big ambitions of his own and is desperate to kick on following last month’s success

‘Extremely short term I would like to make the PGA Championship so that is getting into the top 100 in the world, so I have a few months to do that. So if I reach those kind of little goals, my world ranking should be drastically higher than it is now and that would then put me in a position to get me into bigger events.’ 

While Hill – who picked up a golf club for the first time at the age of three when his parents joined him up as a member at Abernethy Golf Club near where he used to go on holiday growing up – is looking to make his own mark on tour, there is one player in particular he is taking inspiration from.

That is fellow Scot Robert MacIntyre, who has rapidly risen into the world’s top 50 and is eyeing his debut appearance at the Masters in April with a big few weeks coming up in the United States to determine his fate.

It has been some climb to the summit for MacIntyre, who first emerged on the scene thanks to a sixth-placed finish on his debut at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019.

When asked if his compatriot is someone he looks up to, Hill replied: ‘I think it would be silly if you said otherwise. 

‘He is younger than myself and started one year earlier on the European Tour than I did but that just means you have seen what’s possible in the space of one very good season that he had in his first year out. 

Hill will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Robert MacIntyre – ranked 43rd in the world

‘It is something that you hope to emulate and keep on par with and improve at the rate that he has improved, and try and stick with him for the part. And then when you get to the level where you feel like you are somewhere on the same page, you obviously can compete after that.’ 

But for now Hill is just delighted to be in the conversation after a strong start to the season.

He added ‘I think it is nice to be in the chatting circle again, kind of be in the conversation because I didn’t perform very well in the previous year, my first year.

‘I know Covid happened and it kind of gave you a bye for the year, but I didn’t do as well as I would have hoped. 

‘So it is nice to kind of be in the conversation again, and on the other side of that, just to put myself in a better spot just to achieve those short term goals I was saying going forward.’

And after sealing a permanent arrangement for the services of Morbey, who has caddied at eight Ryder Cups and has previous experience with the likes of Rose, Darren Clark, Thomas Bjorn and Tommy Fleetwood, Hill will look to tap into his extensive knowledge and put his stamp on the European Tour.

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