Hill taking small steps to recovery after mosquito bites sidelined Scot

Bernie McGuire
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Calum Hill (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

By Bernie McGuire in St Andrews.

Calum Hill returns from a near 12-month competition absence, and the uncertainty of numerous medical advice, quietly confident he can resume his place on the DP World Tour.

Hill was bitten by mosquitoes last October while competing in Portugal, with the bites becoming infected and leading to the young Scot’s lengthy spell on the side-lines.

However, it took countless visits to doctors both in Scotland and London before Hill, who turns 28 next Wednesday, was diagnosed with nerve damage, or nerve hypersensitivity.

And in returning to competition this week at the 21st anniversary of the Alfred Dunhill Links, Hill spoke of the challenges he faced, and also his hope of being back to full health for the start of the 2023 DP World Tour season.

He said: “This year has had its challenges. The main issue was the extent of time it took to figure out what was going on. And then after that it’s just a process you go through. It’s been one of those things, really unfortunate.

“Finally I’m going in the right direction and hopefully I’ll be 100 percent normal by January next year.

“It ended up being nerve damage, or nerve sensitivity, so lots of scans to see what was wrong. Anatomically I’m fine, but they couldn’t put a finger on it and with Covid everything was delayed, weeks to get results and weeks longer to get appointments.

“It causes the muscles to go into spasm the more they get used. There’s no relaxation and it just gets more and more contracted, that’s what causes the pain. And that’s what meant I wasn’t able to play.

“At the beginning it was frustrating. I tried to come back in March after trying lots of specialist advice. The whole consensus was, ‘you’re fine, you’ll be getting better, there’s no problem, you’ll just keep improving’, but then when I increased my workload, basically the more golf I did day after day, it just deteriorated to the state I couldn’t get going again.

“So that was disappointing. I think there’s a point of acceptance that it’s something that you have to go through and it’ll get better eventually. It’s just a slow process, and you get to acceptance of that. It is what it is, I guess.”

Hill says his mental game remains strong but then he’s had no more than a dozen social games since his last competitive round of a first day 75 on November 18th at last year’s DP World Tour Championship.

Since then, the 2021 winner of the Cazoo Classic slipped from a World Ranking high of 97th after victory in Wales to be now ranked 266th in the world. Though that naturally is not Hill’s prime concern.

He said:  “This will be the first time I’ve played in a long time. We’ll just see how I handle the load and see how I hold up. Golf-wise there’s not a huge amount of expectation because I’ve not being doing anything.

“This is solely to see how I’m progressing. I’d say I’m 70% of the way there and hopefully the next few months will take me to 100%.”

And clearly helping Hill has been the out-pouring from the ‘family’ that is the DP World Tour.

Hill said:  “It’s been really nice seeing everyone again and that’s been one of the nicest parts as you do miss all the people that you have become friends with, and the environment that I have not been a part of the last year, so it was brilliant to come back and see the faces and with everyone asking how I was, so that part of returning to the Tour has been good.

“Helping also this week is that the Dunhill is very much a social event as well as just a pro-am format. It’s a very relaxed environment, so that’s been really good.”

That also included ‘annoying’ journalists such as this writer.

Hill said smiling: “I’ve been missing that aspect, as well. I guess if a journalist is asking questions of you, something is going right. So, that is a good thing on the back of returning to the Tour.”

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