Daniel Hillier- photo Getty Images
A cheque for €43,500 was just reward for an excellent week for New Zealander Daniel Hillier following his share of third place at the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle & Massereene, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Hillier, who led through 36 holes before a third round of 70 saw him slip off the pace, worked himself back into winning contention after an outward nine of 33 on Sunday. He was still amongst the title contenders before bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes cost him a winning chance.
The 23 year old Wellingtonian finished two shots from the eventual winner, Daniel Gavins, and earns the biggest cheque of his 20 month professional career and while there was no doubt joy in that there was some disappointment that he was unable to convert a winning opportunity.
“I felt pretty good out there today for the most part,” said Hillier. “Obviously a pretty poor end to the week, but that’s the way things go sometimes, and I’m sure that I’ll be in contention a lot more in the future, so just going to learn from it.
“It’s one of those things, you’re obviously going to feel nerves and all that. If you’re in contention you want to win, and the adrenaline is going to be there, the nerves are going to be there.
“I think just looking back on a couple of those shots near the end, just a little more focus on the process, I think, because I was getting a little bit ahead of myself I think towards the end, and obviously put me a little bit behind.
“Apart from that it was a really good week, so yeah, I’m happy.”
Hillier has won events on the Charles Tour in New Zealand and had a stellar amateur career, winning the New Zealand and Australian junior titles in addition to two New Zealand Amateur Championship titles.
Hillier has competed on the European Challenge Tour in 2021 although this particular tournament was a European Tour event and as a result of his success this week will earn a start in next week’s Hero Open in Scotland, another European Tour start.
Blake Windred led the Australians in 22nd place while Maverick Antcliff was next best when 26th.
The women’s event, played concurrently, was won by Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukaarn who recovered from a triple bogey during her final round to win after a playoff with American Emma Talley.
Sarah Kemp headed the Australians when she finished tied for 8th and earned a cheque for US$32,000 in the joint LPGA / LET event. Fellow Australian, Su Oh, was 11th.
For Kemp it was a continuation of a great year on the LPGA Tour, an elevation she puts down to improvement on the greens.
“It’s really solid,” she said referring to her form in 2021. “I’m just putting great. Like I holed some really good momentum par saves this week, obviously some long birdie putts. But that’s kind of been the difference this year. Just some few extra putts dropping.
As to the format of two events being played concurrently Kemp is a fan.
“I love it. I wish we could do more of it. Obviously never missed a Vic Open when it’s been co-sanctioned with the guys. It’s just fun. Like I love — I follow them all the time. I follow the Australian boys and got to see them on the range this week.
Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I hope we can do more of it?”