Calum Hill soared up the leaderboard with a closing 64 to claim his maiden European Challenge Tour title in dramatic fashion at the Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf, on Sunday.
The Scot started the day four shots behind overnight co-leaders Scott Henry and Victor Perez and began to climb the leaderboard immediately by driving the green on the 336-yard par four second and holing the eagle putt.
After reaching the turn in 33 Hill made his move over the back nine, reeling off four birdies in eight holes before narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 18th.
The 23-year-old tapped in for birdie to reach 19 under par overall, and after Henry dropped four shots over his closing three holes it was Hill who was crowned champion.
Making just his fifth Challenge Tour start this week, Hill admitted he was lost for words following his one-shot triumph.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “On the stretch I was hitting a few great shots and was holing a few great putts, but I thought it would be for second or third place – not for the victory.
“I really narrowly missed a putt on 18 for eagle which was just hanging over the edge – I thought that would make it interesting as Scott was 22 under when I was going down 17 and I made a birdie to get to 18 under. I didn’t even think it would be close.
“It didn’t even cross my mind as I was playing 18. I hit two nice shots and just tried to give the putter a run, and thought it was a nice finish to a great nine holes.
“With the par five 18th to play I honestly thought Scott had a chance of winning still, and I wasn’t thinking that I would be the champion.
“I came into the week trying to just rise up the Rankings as much as I could and at the end of the season keep my card as this is just my fifth start on the Challenge Tour and I’m playing on invites.
“So, to now have a category and have everything sorted is a bit of a joke – it’s absolutely brilliant isn’t it?
“My girlfriend has been trying to call me from America – so I can’t wait to call her back and tell her the good news.”
With victory Hill rises up 156 places on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah to 43rd position with 33,379 points. After sharing second place with Henry, Stuart Manley moves up to fourth place in the Rankings with 95,649 points.
Cormac Sharvin (67) ended the week as the leading Irishman in a tie for ninth on 14-under-par 270 to earn a cheque for €3,960. The Ardglass man also received the new Bridgestone trophy and a cheque for £250 by finishing as the best Irish player under-30.
Clandeboye’s Johnny Caldwell (67) was next of the Irish contingent, two shots back on 12-under tied 13th, while Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy (68) was tied 16th on 11-under.