Calum Hill wins late entry to Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After its regular short break over the festive period, the new European Tour season tees off in Abu Dhabi this week.
Illness in the field has led to Kinross pro Calum Hill winning a place at this week's event. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)Illness in the field has led to Kinross pro Calum Hill winning a place at this week's event. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Illness in the field has led to Kinross pro Calum Hill winning a place at this week's event. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

A high class entrylist has gathered for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with the likes of Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood competing at the event, which starts on Thursday morning.

Also mixing it with the very best is Calum Hill, from Kinross, who is aiming to build on a solid debut season on tour last year.

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Calum, and Drumoig’s Connor Syme, had been forced to wait for confirmation of a place on the tournament’s reserve list.

The 26-year-old was rewarded for travelling out to the UAE after climbing to first reserve for the $8m Rolex Series event when he replaced Thorbjørn Olesen in the field on Wednesday morning.

A tour statement said: “Thorbjørn Olesen has been withdrawn from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after testing positive for Covid-19.

“The Dane tested positive prior to his scheduled travel and has therefore not entered the tournament bubble.

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“He is currently completing the required period of self-isolation and has been supported throughout by European Tour medical staff.

“He will be replaced in the field by Scotland’s Calum Hill.”

There was frustration for Connor who was unable to make the field despite finishing a career best 65th in last season’s Race to Dubai rankings.

The 25-year-old enjoyed an excellent return to the main tour after having lost his card following his maiden season.

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His performances on the tour’s UK Swing in particular were eye catching, the Drumoig pro putting himself into winning positions ahead of the final round a couple of times before narrowly missing out.

His performances on the swing’s mini order of merit saw him secure a place at the US Open at Winged Foot in September.

But players have been told the standings from last term are null and void from the start of the new campaign due to the previous season being shortened by the pandemic.

Starting with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, fields are determined by 2020 categories, meaning Connor is 13th on the list among the 2019 Challenge Tour graduates.

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At the time of writing, he was also below the cut-off mark for next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Calum’s opening two rounds this week sees him partner Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn and England’s Eddie Pepperell.