AMERICAN ace Rickie Fowler reckons local hero Calum Hill can turn his dream debut in the Scottish Open into a “great week” by getting into contention at Gullane this weekend.
The pair played a practice round together in preparation for the £3.25 million Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event and the 19-year-old amateur from North Berwick certainly impressed the world No.9.
“I was in a similar position to Calum is in this week when I qualified for the US Open when I was an amateur,” said Fowler, one of the favourites for both this event and also next week’s Open at St Andrews.
“He had friends and family out there when we played yesterday and it’s going to be a fun week for him.
“Hopefully, he can stay relaxed and enjoy the week and have fun. He’s a great player, and you know, he can definitely go here and get himself through to the weekend and possibly get in contention and make it a great week.”
Hill, who came through a new qualifier for the event at North Berwick on Sunday, approached Fowler when the pair were hitting balls at Archerfield Links on Monday night and they played in a fourball along with two other Americans, Jimmy Walker and Cameron Tringale.
“We had a lot of fun,” added Fowler, a member of the US team in last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“I definitely don’t force information on anyone, but we had a great time out there.
“I was hoping to play the front nine but we went all 18. I’m glad he enjoyed the time. I know we all had fun and, hopefully, I was able to give him some helpful advice.”
There’s no doubt he did and, on hearing what Fowler had said about him, Hill admitted he’d be heading for the first tee in today’s opening round in the company of Aussie Richard Green and Welshman Oliver Farr with a real spring in his step.
“I did play well and hit a lot of good shots, but I really appreciate his kind words and there is no bigger confidence boost than that when you consider he is one of the world’s best players,” said the Tantallon star.
“Now it’s a case of going out today and trying to keep doing the same things that got me here at North Berwick last weekend.”
Hill’s been pinching himself constantly since then and still can’t quite believe he’ll be inside the ropes today rather than outside them.
“I’d have been coming here as a spectator and here I am playing and signing autographs,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Being asked to do that took me back to when I was at a tournament with my dad – that was me.”