Quietly, without much notice, Matt Hill has put a solid year together. The former top amateur, Hill has been toiling on the eGolf Tour in the Carolinas and makes his Canadian Tour debut this week in Edmonton.
It was 2009 when Hill was regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in the game, ahead of the likes of Rickie Fowler. Along with Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor, Hill seemed like a can’t miss prospect, especially after he rattled off 9 wins while playing at NC State.
He admits that after turning pro his ball striking wasn’t where he needed it to be, but he’s worked under coach Ralph Bauer to try to take it up a notch, and says his putting is much improved.
“I have the highest expectations of myself,” he says from Edmonton, where he tees it up at Windermere tomorrow. “But sometimes things don’t work out as well as you’d hope.”
We expect a lot out of our young pros, especially when compared with the best young players in the U.S., golfers like Bud Cauley, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay, who have all made an immediate impact on the pro circuit. Hill and Taylor haven’t done so – at least yet. But remember golf is a game where players mature much later – it took Mike Weir years of toiling on the Canadian Tour to crack the PGA Tour.
Hill looks like he’s making the progress many hoped for him when he first turned pro. On the eGolf Tour he’s -61 under in 10 events, with three Top 5 finishes and earnings of more than $30,000. It is a solid start to the year – even if it hasn’t received a lot of attention north of the border. He also Monday qualified for a Nationwide Tour event, something that has become increasingly difficult.
Will he crack the Canadian Open exemptions list? Even Hill admits that’s tough to call. Though he’s had a successful year, it has been out of the limelight and with little media attention.
“I’m going up against a lot of really good players,” Hill says. “But I don’t think many people realize just how good the competition is out there. There are a lot of good players [on eGolf].”
The bigger question is what is Canada doing to support its young pros? Are we doing enough? Hill has a deal with Nike that has supported him to this point, but that’s not common. But Hill doesn’t see support levels changing, especially while the Canadian Tour continues to struggle to find its own corporate support.
“It would be nice to see something happen,” he says in regards to the notion of a support system for emerging pros. “But it is tough when the economy is still a mess and the CanTour isn’t exactly killing it. It is a great idea though.”
In the meantime Hill will continue working alongside Bauer, and tinkering with his putting, which he says is much improved, as well as his ability to work the ball more.
“There are little things here and there,” he says. “But I’m making progress.”