Hill takes NCAA golf crown

JOHN HERBERT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

The kid who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Mike Weir and hung around the same course is the NCAA champion.

Twenty-year-old Matt Hill, who now lives in Forest, but grew up in Bright's Grove, shot his third straight score of 69 yesterday at the Inverness Golf and Country Club in Toledo, Ohio, to capture the 112th NCAA championship.

The tournament has been the top annual competition in U.S. men's collegiate golf since 1897 and previous winners include many PGA Tour stars such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin and Justin Leonard.

"I'm really pumped up, really excited," Hill said last night.

"It's hard to put into words -- everything that's gone on in the past couple of months. It's going to be amazing to see my name on the trophy with those guys."

Hill attended the NCAA tournament banquet last night at which Nicklaus was scheduled to speak.

He will be formally presented with the trophy this morning at the Toledo club.

The only other Canadian to win the NCAA was James Lepp of Abbotsford, B.C., who did it in 2005 when he was a member of the University of Washington team.

Hill led or never fell out of second place all three days of the tournament.

The former Bright's Grove resident, who played his early golf at Huron Oaks before moving over to Sarnia Golf and Curling Club, birdied the 53rd hole and then made par on his final ho le to finish at six- under- par with a 207 score.

He won by two shots over Tom Hoge of TCU and Kyle Stanley of Clemson. Canadian Nick Taylor of the University of Washington tied for 9th at 213.

A sophomore at North Carolina State in Raleigh, Hill had already shattered all of the school's records, including most wins in a school year. Yesterday's was his eighth win.

Hill was playing as one of six individuals in the NCAA tournament as his team did not qualify.

He made it for winning the individual honours two weeks ago at the NCAA regional championship.

Earlier, he won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

The victories assure Hill will be a first-team all-American player and he is the first ever North Carolina State player to win the NCAA title. Tim Clark, a PGA Tour winner, won five times at North Carolina State but it took him three years before turning pro after his junior year. Hill, with nine career victories, enters his junior year next fall. Hill is a member of Canada's national team, replacing brother Graham, who has bowed out of competitive golf to concentrate on his new job as a financial advisor in Sarnia. Graham Hill played his college golf at Eastern Michigan University but never qualified for the NCAA final tournament.


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