Hil­lier on brink of promis­ing golf ca­reer

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By TIM BAR­TON

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.’’

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