Hill's hot season now in past

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

While most of us craved a hot spring and summer, Matt Hill of Bright's Grove made one happen, beginning with five consecutive wins and seven victories in eight events to finish off his 2009 collegiate season at North Carolina State.

Of course, winning the NCAA individual championship and the Jack Nicklaus Award as outstanding collegiate golfer in the U.S., brought Hill's spring to a boiling point, as did his Ontario amateur title in the summer.

We could continue listing his special moments -- such as playing three PGA Tour events, the Canadian Open, Buick Open and AT&T National -- just to drive the editor crazy about the length of this column, but you get the picture.

As the temperature cools off, Hill has been able to reflect on that NCAA title, among other highlights.

"I've kind of done that now," said Hill, ranked sixth in the World Amateur Golf rankings. "All summer, it was a nice feeling to have, just knowing that was one of my accomplishments. But now, it's in the past and I'm just looking forward to what's coming up in the near future.

"The spring can be a pretty big grind. There's a time when we have five weeks in a row going to tournaments. With regionals and NCAAs and just trying to play well at those and get a high ranking, there's a lot more going on in the spring."

This 2010 spring season will be a new experience, knowing there are increased expectations for him at school.

"I talked to the coach (Richard Sykes) about it. He just said: 'Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Just go and play and have fun.' That was kind of nice for him to say that."

So far this fall, Hill has a 12th and a 10th, but he rebounded with a tie for second at the recent Bank of Tennessee event.

"I have really high expectations for myself. The first two events, I probably put a little bit too much pressure on myself," he said. "The last event, I kind of just played and didn't really get too nervous and just tried to have fun out there and stay calm and it worked out pretty well, finishing second.

"I actually didn't play too bad my first two events. I just had a couple of triples and doubles that I usually don't make and it hurt me a little bit. I would have finished third or fourth, but instead I finished 10th and 12th."

Expectations on Hill are not confined to himself or those surrounding him at N.C. State. Once he won the NCAAs, he knows Canadians were looking at him and countryman Nick Taylor, the low amateur at the U.S. Open, as the future on the PGA Tour, a point made clear at Glen Abbey.

"In the Canadian Open, there will always be some high expectations (of Canadian players) and there were a lot of people following us," Hill said. "I can say it was a really good experience for both of us. Dealing with people, the NCAAs and trying to deal with everything that goes on in tour life, it's a really good experience," he said, adding that Canada has a bright future on tour with the likes of Taylor, Graham DeLaet and Chris Baryla, who already has his card.

"I think eventually, we've got a really good future and we're going to have some more guys out there pretty soon," he said.

HUTCHGOLF@NETZERO.COM


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