Calum Hill narrowing in on another San Juan Open title

Scotland native focused on bettering aim on front nine

Matt Hollinshead,
  • Calum Hill placed 61st out of 170 U.S. Open competitors last weekend.
  • Hill says the front nine at the San Juan Country Club has given him trouble in the past.
  • He shot a combined 132 through the first two rounds.
Calum Hill, seen here at the 2017 San Juan Open on June 22, 2017, in Farmington, eyes back-to-back tournament championships. Hill is shooting a combined 132 entering Saturday's third round of the 2018 San Juan Open.

FARMINGTON – Fresh off playing in his first U.S. Open Championship, professional golfer Calum Hill is wasting no time trying to defend his San Juan Open title this weekend.

The 23-year-old Hill flew into Durango, Colorado, on Monday, the day after the U.S. Open ended, and was en route to the San Juan Country Club in Farmington the following morning.

“You have some good performances, you build up confidence, you build up momentum. You just keep riding off it,” said Hill, who placed 61st out of 156 U.S. Open competitors.

Hill, who turned pro in April 2017, immediately took to improving his aim during holes one through nine, something that he said has given him some trouble at the San Juan Country Club in the past..

The front nine features narrow spaces when driving the ball forward, largely due to trees that may deviate inward, and the layout for each green features more slopes. Those features can be especially challenging with stronger wind gusts.

Hill, who hails from Scotland, said there are some shooting lines on the front nine where he may only have 25 to 30 yards of horizontal space to work with, as opposed to spots where he has a good 50 yards.

That is where pinpoint accuracy enters the picture.

“You pick as small a target as you can and focus on that, hit as good a swing as you can,” Hill said. “You just aim in the correct spots. You’ll have a certain dispersion in which you hit your shot.”

Hill is concentrating even more on hitting the ball straight and with better control in those moments.

After shooting a combined 132 through the first two rounds and finding himself just two strokes behind tournament leader Sam Saunders, Hill is off to a strong start because of how well he’s doing on holes 10 through 18.

“I can’t complain. The back nine, it’s the easier of the two sides. I’m opening up a lot more birdie chances,” Hill said.

With two days left in the tournament, Hill now looks to push ahead and reclaim the title.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.