Hillier on brink of promising golf career
Aotea College year 11 student Daniel Hillier is beginning to make an impression on the national golf stage.
Hillier performed well in the national amateur championships in April and at the 54-hole under-19 nationals in Taupo this month.
The 16-year-old was third equal in Taupo, after sharing the lead going into the final round.
He was hampered by a shoulder injury in his last round, but rallied well to finish four strokes behind winner Taylor Gill and a stroke behind runner-up Henry Spring.
Hillier had been well off the pace after an opening round of 76, but recorded a 67, the best of the day and the secondlowest of the tournament, in the second round.
His golf at Taupo could not be described as boring – he recorded 13 birdies and two eagles over the three rounds, but also had his share of bogeys and double bogeys, and ended the tournament two over par.
‘‘I had a couple of lapses in concentration – but that happens,’’ Hillier said.
‘‘I also did something to my shoulder about 15 minutes before I teed off in the last round and it started to pinch me about a quarter of the way into my backswing with each shot. I did think of pulling out, but I got some Panadol into me and it got easier.
‘‘I was pretty happy with the result. I finished 29th at the tournament last year, so it was a big improvement.’’
Hillier lost in the first round of matchplay at the national amateur at Nelson, but had qualified seventh equal in strokeplay, in a field of more than 100, recording a fiveunder 66 in the second round.
‘‘The New Zealand amateur was the big one for me. It has the top senior golfers and to qualify in the top 10 was a big confidence booster,’’ Hillier said.
‘‘I have been working hard on the mental side of my game. I’ve been trying to accept disappointment and not to let my head drop and take it one shot at a time.
‘‘There’s still a long way to go, but I’m taking small steps forward.’’
Hillier was the reserve for the Wellington team for the interprovincial tournament last summer and one of his goals is to make the team for the 2014 tournament, in Hamilton in December.
Coach Kevin Smith has also been happy with his pupil’s progress this year.
‘‘He needs to become a little more consistent, but he has shown he has the ability to shoot low scores on good courses,’’ Smith said. ‘‘ And that’s a pointer to his potential.
‘‘Mentally he’s very mature for his age and is growing in confidence. He’s becoming more sound technically and should have an exciting next 12 months.’’