New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier admitted he was “gobsmacked” after producing a stunning burst of scoring to claim his first DP World Tour title in the Betfred British Masters.
Hillier holed from 40 feet for eagle on the 15th, made birdie from a fairway bunker on the next and then holed from six feet for another eagle on the 17th in a brilliant final round of 66 at The Belfry.
That gave the 24-year-old a winning total of 10 under par, securing the first prize of £468,000 and also a place in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool later this month.
Hillier, who began the day three shots off a six-way tie for the lead, said: “I’m gobsmacked. I think it’s going to take me a while to process to be honest.
“Early on in the day I was not feeling it at all. I was a little bit uncomfortable with the driver, didn’t have many chances but obviously knew there were some chances coming in.
“I didn’t think I would take them that well, but obviously pretty ecstatic.
“I’m not going to lie, I was definitely looking at the leaderboard and seeing my name up there and thinking about what it would be like to finish it off but it’s all a bit of a blur really.”
Hillier admitted his eagle putt on the 15th was going “a little quick” when it hit the back of the hole and dropped, while he also made the most of a favourable bounce on his approach to the 17th.
And he also revealed he will now have to cancel his planned trip to play in two PGA Tour events which take place the week before and the week of the Open.
“Late change of plans but I’m not complaining,” added Hillier, who missed the cut on his Open debut in 2021.
“It’s going to be a pretty awesome experience playing the Open again so I can’t wait.”
Hillier finished two shots ahead of England’s Oliver Wilson and American Gunner Wiebe, who secured the other two spots up for grabs at Hoylake.
Wiebe, who is ranked 1,349th in the world and has made just one cut in 14 DP World Tour events this season, had set the early clubhouse target after carding an eagle, seven birdies and a triple bogey in his closing 66.
“That is quite special,” the 34-year-old said of his Open place. “It’s the major that I’ve adored since I was a kid.
“It was on at 6am when I woke up in the morning. I’d watch till 2.30 when the coverage ended and I would go try to hit shots that I saw on TV.
“And it’s also the last major that my dad (Mark) played in 2014 at the same course. That was his 500th career start and it was his final major so to get where he sort of ended his career in a way, that’s pretty special.”
Wilson birdied the 18th to snatch the final Open spot from Scotland’s Calum Hill, who had to settle for a share of fourth place with compatriot Ewen Ferguson and pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose.
Rose was seven under par after an opening 65, but finished on the same total following subsequent rounds of 73, 74 and 69.
“Obviously a good week,” said the former world number one, who won this event in 2002 and acted as tournament host in 2018. “I’ve enjoyed it. The crowd were really rooting me on.
“I felt like I was struggling with momentum in the middle of the tournament, obviously sensing their frustration, and I was getting a little frustrated, too, because obviously I really want to play well here at home.
“This week has been a good test of everyone’s game I think and it’s a good sort of benchmark on where you’re at. So quite happy with the test and the way I passed that test and can hopefully build on that the next few weeks.”