Calum Hill becomes youngest winner of Arizona Open Championships

After finishing with a 4-under-par 66 in each of the first two rounds, Calum Hill said he thought he needed another 66 for him to walk away with the Arizona Open title.

As it turned out, a 1-over 71 would have done the trick.

Calum Hill. (Photos courtesy Mike Schoaf/Southwest PGA)

Mr. Hill of Silver City N.M. carded a 2-under-par 68 in the final round to win his first Arizona Open Championship, his fourth win as a professional, at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale by four shots over defending champion Brian Cooper, according to a press release.

On top of his win, Mr. Hill is the youngest champion in the history of the Arizona Open, a release states.

“I came in the final round trying to do the same as I’ve done the other two days,” Mr. Hill said in a release.

“It would have been nice to have three 66’s but to be honest, I thought it would have taken more than that. I definitely saw the possibility of someone coming from behind. My round wasn’t very low today but there’s only one job that I needed to do and that’s cross the finish line above everyone else and I managed to creep in there.”

Mr. Hill, 22, started the final round with a two-shot advantage over amateur and fifth-year senior at Grand Canyon University Matt McClung and four strokes over Scottsdale-native Austyn Karle, who were all paired together in the final group.

The early action on the course was pretty quiet with Mr. Hill at even-par through seven holes after managing a birdie at the No. 3 hole and bogey at the No. 7.

Mr. McClung was also even after parring his first 10 holes while Mr. Karle strung together 10 consecutive pars after a birdie on the first hole.

“I struck the ball really well like I did the first two days but I didn’t quite make as many putts today,” Mr. McClung said in a release. “I hit my lines but they just didn’t go in. I knew I would have had to make a lot of birdies to have any chance at beating Calum.”

In the group ahead of them was Mr. Cooper, who began the day six shots behind Mr. Hill.

At the completion of the second round, he studied the scoreboard and said he had a score he thought he needed to shoot in the final round to have a chance.

“My number coming in today that I thought I needed to shoot was 63,” he said in a press release. “I felt like 63 was the number I needed, and being one group in front Calum, it would send a message and perhaps some added pressure his way.”

After birdies on holes 4, 5, 7 and 8, Mr. Cooper went to a 6-under, two strokes behind Mr. Hill and tied with Mr. McClung for second.

“When I made the turn with at 4-under I really felt like Calum was within my grasp,” Mr. Cooper said in a release. “To his credit however, he continued to play solid golf and definitely earned the Championship.”

Hill went on to birdie the par-5 eighth hole and par-4 ninth hole, making the turn with a 2-under 33. After a birdie at 12th hole, Mr. Hill went to 11-under for the Championship and had a five-shot lead with only six holes remaining.

Other than the birdie at 12 and a bogey at the par-4 17th hole, Mr. Hill parred the other seven holes on the back nine en route to the win.

“Consistent ball striking and making sure you chose the right club for the shot,” Mr. Hill saidin a press release. “I didn’t change my game at all today. Every single shot today was the same as the first two rounds – same clubs off the tee, same yardages, wind dependent obviously.”

Phoenix-native Mr. Cooper, 50, managed another birdie on the 15th hole to get to 7-under but gave it back after making a bogey on the 17th hole, his only blemish of the final round.

He finished the championship at 6-under 204 and sole possession of second.

“I tried my best to chase Calum down, and almost pulled it off, but the young man never wavered,” Mr. Cooper said in a release.

“I’m very pleased with finally putting together a solid round and finishing as the runner-up but hats off to Calum on becoming the new Arizona Open champion. I congratulate him and welcome him to the club.”

Matt McClung. (Photos courtesy Mike Schoaf/Southwest PGA)

Katy, Texas-native McClung, 22, finished with a 1-over 71 after a couple bogeys and a birdie on the back nine to earn low amateur honors. His 54-hole total of 5-under 205 left him tied in third place with professional and 24-year-old Kyle Jones of Grapevine, Texas for the Championship.

“It’s a great accomplishment for me as it gives me a lot of momentum going into this school year – my last year of college golf,” Mr. McClung said in a press release. “The Arizona Open is a great event. I look forward to this one all summer and I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Mr. Jones finished with a 2-under-par 68 and a 54-hole total of 5-under 205. Mr. Karle, 28, matched his second round total of an even 70 and finished tied for fifth place with amateur Matthew McCarty, of Scottsdale.

Mr. Hill now heads to Utah to compete in a qualifier for the Utah Open next week before returning to his assistant coaching duties at Western New Mexico University.

“I think this victory is steady progress towards, hopefully, moving up,” Mr. Hill said in a release. “It’s a great achievement, especially giving me momentum and confidence. For me, it ranks pretty high, if not the highest of my career so far.”

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