Lately, they’ve been joined at the hip in our collective minds as the next great Canadian one-two punch zeroed in on the PGA Tour, a place both won’t see for quite awhile as they finish their college careers.
However, Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove, Ont., teed off together after a seemingly endless rain delay late Thursday afternoon at the RBC Canadian Open, a duo sure to please the Canadian fans who remained and weren’t fixated on perennial favourite Mike Weir.
“I’m really looking forward to this week, especially being in Canada,” said Matt Hill, who won the 2009 NCAA individual men’s crown and the Jack Nicklaus Award as outstanding NCAA player.
“Just being on the tour is a whole lot different. I haven’t really played this golf course before, but I’m really looking forward to Glen Abbey with all the tradition and with it being the 100th anniversary. That’s pretty special, as well,” added Hill.
Taylor supplied a few fireworks of his own this year. While Hill was winning eight tournaments for North Carolina State this past season, Taylor won four for the University of Washington Huskies.
He made it through qualifying to the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and was low amateur, shooting a second round 65 and tying for 36. Any taste of the PGA Tour is welcome at this stage of their careers.
“It’s cool to be in a PGA Tour event, but being back home in Canada with a bunch of people pulling for you, that’s going to be fun,” said Taylor, who also played in last year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
With the type of potential they’re exhibiting, it’s little wonder why Canadians are associating one with the other, especially with Taylor ranked No. 1 in the world amateur rankings, followed closely by Hill in second. Both have made the wise decision to finish off their college careers before turning pro.
The association between the two players isn’t far off since both were following one another throughout their respective outstanding college seasons, despite the fact that they were on opposite coasts in the United States. They are old buddies from the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s national men’s team.
“I was following what he was doing,” said Taylor. “I was watching and the last two events, we got to play in the same field, got to play with each other in one round.”
That interest was returned by Hill.
“There were quite a few times when maybe I won an event on a Sunday and I saw Nick the next day on live scoring and then, he’d end up shooting, like 65 or something to win,” said Hill.
As a result, e-mails were often exchanged between the two, but none were trash talk as young guys tend to do in jest. “I’d say more support than anything,” said Hill. “We supported each other a lot and just kind of congratulated each other and rooted for each other.”
Hill is at two-under in the first round, while Taylor was at three-over with four holes remaining in their first round.