Hill runs away with San Juan Open title
Scotsman's 21 under ranks as fifth-lowest score to par in tourney history
FARMINGTON — Calum Hill put an emphatic stamp on his final round of the San Juan Open on Sunday, shooting a six-under 65 for the second day in a row to win by a nine-shot margin at the San Juan Country Club.
Hill finished round on a tear, going five under over the final five holes, including a birdie on the 227-yard par-3 18th as dozens of fans lined the green.
"It's pretty cool. You watch those things on TV when someone finishes out. Everyone putts out first and the last one to go, if he makes it it's a big deal. It was pretty cool to be able to do the same thing. That was a nice experience," Hill said.
Hill took a seven-stroke lead into the final round and shot one under on the front nine to make the turn at 16 under, six shots clear of Steven Kupcho.
On the back nine, Hill maintained his poise and played even through the first four holes before taking advantage of back-to-back par 5s at 14 and 15, birdieing 14 and eagling 15 to get to 19 under for the tournament.
With Hill in complete control, the final grouping of the day — made up of Hill, Kupcho and Zahkai Brown — loosened up and began joking with each other and interacting with the gallery during the final few holes.
"When we got halfway through the back nine, it was over at that point. (The mood) was light. It was probably different than most final rounds you'd see," Kupcho said. "It is always good to keep it light and have fun. At the end of the day, it is a game, and how well you play doesn't define you in life. We came out and had a lot of fun. Those were two great guys I played with, and we had a blast."
Kupcho finished second with a score of 12 under. Richard Gaona placed third at eight under, followed by Brown and Jesse Mueller tying for fourth at seven under.
Hill's score of 21 under is the fifth-lowest score to par in the tournament's 53-year history with Derek Tolan (-24), Jim Knous (-23), and Clay Ogden and Gary Christian (both -22) ahead of him.
"This solidifies that I'm going to keep going for pro golf," Hill said. "It gives you some confidence and it's always great to get a win, especially by a good margin. It lets you know you have something. We'll see how it goes in the future."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.