Hill chases PGA Tour exemption

John Herbert, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Matt Hill hopes a letter-writing campaign will land him some exemptions into PGA Tour events when he turns pro next month.

“I’ve written to 10 tournaments,” the Forest-area resident said. “It definitely would be the ideal situation if I could get into six or seven. That would give me some experience and the opportunity to get off to a good start.

“I’ve written to all the tournaments in the summer . . . all the ones I feel like I have a chance to get into.”

Hill is counting on his playing record to help convince sponsors to offer him exemptions, as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus did last summer after he won the NCAA tournament and a few days later was named U.S. college player of the year.

Hill played in the Woods-backed AT&T tournament in Washington, where he made the cut, the Buick Open in Flint and the RBC Canadian Open. Nicklaus offered him a spot in the Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio, next month.

There’s an outside chance the Memorial could mark Hill’s pro debut, but only if he fails to play in the NCAA championship, which is the same weekend.

Despite winning the 2009 NCAA tournament, Hill does not have an exemption to play in this year’s, June 3-6, in Chattanooga, Tenn. He earns a spot if his school — North Carolina State — qualifies as one of the top five in a regional, May 20-23. If North Carolina State fails, Hill could still make it by posting the lowest score among players not on one of the top five teams.

Hill said he’s been thinking about turning pro for more than a year but wanted to go back to school for his junior year. He’s working on a business plan.

“I felt my game was ready then and winning the NCAA gave me a lot of confidence. I feel ready for the next level.”

He’s been following closely the progress of two players he played against last year in college events who turned pro and are doing well on the Nationwide Tour.

Those players — Jamie Lovemark and Kyle Stanley — turned pro after last spring’s college season ended and won enough money last fall and this spring to gain full-time status.

That adds to his confidence that he can do the same.

Another former U.S. college player, Kevin Chappell, won his first Nationwide event last weekend and is No. 2 on the money list with $151,000 US.

He was NCAA champion and the college player of the year in 2008..

Hill will try some Monday qualifying for Nationwide stops and combined with playing in some PGA events through exemptions hopes to gain valuable experience before the PGA qualifying school at the end of October.


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