Calum Hill left with 'salty' taste after agonising finish in Kenya Classic
Calum Hill admitted an agonising finish in the Kenya Savannah Classic had left a “salty” taste as the Scot narrowly missed out on a breakthrough European Tour win in Nairobi.
The 25-year-old shared the lead playing the 72nd hole at Karen Country Club after producing eight birdies, including five on the spin around the turn, in an exciting final round.
But a closing bogey-5 - his only dropped shot of the day - saw Hill miss out on a play-off, which was won by South African Daniel Van Tonder after he’d holed a long birdie putt at that final hole.
Hill, who was playing in just his 31st event on the main tour after landing three wins on the Challenge Tour, finished in a tie for third, just ahead of compatriot David Drysdale.
“It was a very good week,” said Hill, who lives in Crook of Devon and is attached to Gleneagles, after carding a closing 64 for a 20-under-par 264 total. “I played really nice today, it was good work. All aspects of my game were pretty solid, so lots of positives.”
The effort came on the back of a top-10 finish in the Magical Kenya Open, the first leg of a double-header at the same venue, with Hill having also claimed a share of fourth spot in a much stronger field in the Saudi International in February.
On the back of his recent exploits, Hill has climbed to 16th spot, one place behind Bob MacIntyre, in this season’s Race to Dubai, but, for a short time anyway, this missed opportunity is going to sting a bit.
“A bit of a salty way to finish it,” he said of being in the perfect spot off his tee shot at the par-4 18th only for his approach to end up a bit long and just off the green, from where his chip ran five feet past the hole and was unable to convert the putt.
“Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes you’re a bit heavy-handed on the chip,” he added of missing out on that shoot-out between Van Tonder and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.
Drysdale, who was trying to claim a first European Tour victory in his 519th start, was unable to convert a great eagle chance at the par-5 12th as he tried to hang on to the coat-tails of the leaders on another low-scoring day.
In the end, it just wasn’t to be for the 46-year-old, but, like Hill, he will take lots of positives into the next segment of the 2021 campaign.
“Overall, it was a good week,” said Drysdale. “I hit a lot of good shots today but didn’t putt particularly well. I holed a couple then missed a couple of chances on the back nine. Overall, I’m pleased.”
Van Tonder, a seven-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, finally shook off Janewattananond at the third extra hole to complete a South African double after Justin Harding’s win in the first of the two events.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said the 30-year-old, who heaped praise on his wife/caddie Abigail, adding: “She’s the rock. She keeps me calm, makes me positive about everything.”
Liam Johnston (70) finished just outside the top 25 on 13-under, with Richie Ramsay and Daniel Young closing with the same score for nine and seven-under totals respectively.