SIX years ago, Calum Hill was a rising star when he played Gullane against this Edinburgh Evening News reporter.
This week he’s rubbing shoulders with Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose at the same East Lothian venue.
Indeed, the 19-year-old amateur from North Berwick was pinching himself after playing his first full practice round for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open with Fowler and fellow Americans Jimmy Walker and Cameron Tringale.
“I was practising on Monday night at Archerfield Links and Rickie Fowler was two bays down from me,” said Hill of how his dream round had come about.
“I remember Zander Culverwell, a fellow amateur from Dunbar, saying to me once that the one thing you need to be in life is be bold.
“So I went along and asked Rickie if he had any plans for today and he told me that he was going to go out for a practice round about 9am in the morning and he’d see me there if I wanted to join him.
“There was no way I was going to miss out on an opportunity like that – and it was amazing.
“I had a great chat with Rickie on the way round and it was the same with Jimmy and Cameron. It was a morning I’ll never forget.”
It was back in 2009 that this correspondent played against Hill, who was 13 at the time, on the East Lothian course.
It was before he teed up in the US Kids Golf European Championships and, for the record, he beat me 3&2.
I was impressed with both his game and attitude then and it’s great to see him having earned this fantastic opportunity as one of the five qualifiers at North Berwick on Monday.
“Junior events like that one I played in back in 2009 are great because it gets you used to competitive golf,” admitted the Tantallon kid.
“You learn a lot about your game and yourself. When you get in a situation like the one I was in on Sunday you know how to handle it.”
Hill has enjoyed every minute of his first European Tour event so far and reckons some of the world’s best players in for a treat on the composite Championship Course being used this week.
“The course is really good. It’s in great shape,” he said. “I like the two holes they’ve used on No.2 and the new tee at the last is just phenomenal looking down on the village. It also makes you think a lot more with the tee shot.
“The rough is patchy. Just off the fairway isn’t bad but you don’t want to be deeper in than that, to be honest.”
Also walking around with Hill as he played with the three PGA Tour players yesterday was Alan Murdoch, the pro at Kings Acre who has been his coach for the last four years.
“He also works with Pam Pretswell and Andy Oldcorn and has helped my game enormously,” admitted Hill. “He’s actually a Gullane member so it’s a real thrill for him to see me playing in a Scottish Open here.
“The same goes for my family, of course, and my aunt Evie and uncle Alex have delayed their return to Seattle so that they can see me tee it up with some of the best players in the world this week. It’s going to be fantastic.”
Whether or not that is going to be a description for the weather for the £3.25 million event remains to be seen. For the fourth day in a row, Gullane was hit by a heavy downpour just after Hill had finished his practice round.
“We know what Scotland can be like with showers, but that’s four days in a row now that we’ve had really heavy rain and let’s hope it’s the last for the week,” he said, speaking for more than just himself.
It’s going to be quite a thrill for Hill to tee it up in tomorrow’s first round and the man he beat six years ago will certainly be there to witness the exciting occasion.
Spectators attending today’s pro-am are being encouraged to take part in ‘Tartan Wednesday’ – a themed day raising money for the event’s official charity, Mindroom.