Sights are set high as new tour season begins in South Africa

Connor Syme of Drumoig in action during a practice round ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Golf Club. In a first, players are permitted to wear shorts in the competition. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Connor Syme of Drumoig in action during a practice round ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Golf Club. In a first, players are permitted to wear shorts in the competition. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Calum Hill tees off his maiden season on the European Tour this weekend while Connor Syme makes his return to the top tier.

The local duo, Calum from Kinross and Connor from Drumoig, both progressed to the main tour after successful years on the second tier Challenge Tour.

They started their campaigns in the first event of the new season at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa on Thursday morning.

Life as a European Tour pro is a new experience for Calum, but he proved last season he’s more than capable of stepping up to that high standard.

He tied for 26th at the top class Scottish Open, finishing joint highest Scot in July, before finishing 26th again at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September.

And the former Kinross High pupil is aiming to hit the ground running on the main tour, setting high targets for himself.

He told Europeantour.com: “I have big goals, hopefully playing on the PGA and European tours and competing in the biggest events.

“The top 50 is where you’d like to be, playing at the best competitions against the best players in the world.”

The Alfred Dunhill Championship started on Thursday morning, with both Connor and Calum finding themselves teeing off at an event which broke new ground in the sport.

Due to increasing temperatures in the Rainbow Nation , the Sunshine Tour and European Tour agreed to let those teeing it up in the first event of the 2020 season wear shorts for the duration of the four-day tournament.

The decision was taken after consultation with the players, European Tour chief executive Officer Keith Pelley, and the tournament host, Johann Rupert.

In light of the excessive heat forecast for Leopard Creek Country Club this week, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 40°C, all parties unanimously agreed on the decision, which applies for this tournament only.

“The temperatures will increase as the week goes on, which is uncomfortable and could be a health issue for the players,” said the European Tour’s David Williams, who is this week’s tournament director.

Next week the tour stops off in Mauritius.