Great expectations are logical when a young player posts eight collegiate wins in one season, including the ACC Championship, NCAA East Regional and NCAA individual titles, but Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove, Ont., understands the importance of not getting caught up in that as he ventures into the professional ranks.
A year after his brilliant season with North Carolina State, Hill announced officially on Monday that he is turning professional and has signed on with IMG and Nike. He will make his pro debut this week at The Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, an invitation he earned after winning the 2009 Jack Nicklaus Award.
“I think people probably expected me to win almost everything this year, but it’s just the way the game is,” said Hill. “It can be tough sometimes and everything’s not always going to be great. There are always going to be times when you might be disappointed and it’s how you recover from those (that’s important).”
In his junior year at NC State, Hill won once and added second and third-place finishes, a record that didn’t have the sparkle of his remarkable sophomore season last year. Over the past year, he has dropped from second to 54th in the most recent world amateur golf rankings.
Those stats can either be viewed negatively, or as a dose of reality that will prepare him well as he sets out on a road to the PGA Tour that will likely have some potholes along the way as is the case with most young players starting off.
“Last year, I just got on one of those rolls where nothing could go wrong and this year, it kind of got a little bit tougher, but I feel like, at the end of the day, my game hasn’t changed at all and I’m ready for the next level,” he said.
“Now that I look back at it, I wonder almost how I did that and how I won so many times,” said Hill, who doesn’t seem to lack confidence in his abundant talents, nor should he after bringing down the curtain on his collegiate career.
“It was an okay year. It wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but I feel like my game’s really good right now and a lot of parts of my game have gotten better. I maybe got to know my game a little better,” said Hill, pointing out that his putting is quickly reaching a level at which he’s comfortable.
After the Memorial, Hill will play in the AT&T National in early July and count on him being in the field at the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s next month. He’s allowed up to seven sponsor exemptions this year and when he isn’t playing on the PGA Tour, he’ll fill in with Canadian Tour and Nationwide Tour events.
“Hopefully, (his schedule) ends up giving me status, or I’ll have a really good chance at Q-school,” said Hill, who realizes the immediate future won’t be an easy challenge, but is confident that he can get over the next step in his career.
“It’s something that I’ve always dreamed about. It’s probably going to be a little bit more challenging than college. I have to be more prepared, more organized, but I have a really good group of support people behind me,” he said.
“I feel like, right now, the sky’s the limit. I have a great opportunity and I’m going to try and take advantage of that the best I can,” he said. “I’m just trying to be positive and looking forward to the next opportunity.”