Friday, May 29, 2009

N.C. State's Hill in rare company

It would be enough that N.C. State sophomore Matt Hill won the NCAA men's golf championship Thursday in Toledo, Ohio, adding his name to a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Curtis Strange, Jay Haas, Ben Crenshaw and Justin Leonard.

But that's just part of what Hill did at Inverness.

Hill won seven of the last eight tournaments he played, a remarkable run by any standards. He finished tied for fifth in his other start this spring, an event in which he was the defending champion.

"It seems like a fairy tale," said Richard Sykes, the N.C. State coach.

Hill became just the second player to win his conference championship, a regional championship and the NCAA championship in the same year, joining Woods who did it in 1996.

Sykes said he sensed he had a special player when he signed Hill but didn't expect him to be so consistently dominant. Like almost every college player, Hill is exceptionally long but he also plays with a style Sykes calls "cautiously aggressive."

In other words, he doesn't try to do too much.

"Since he walked on our campus, he's played great," Sykes said. "He's so steady that eventually he at the top of the leader board at the end. Everyone else seems to fall away. He doesn't."

Hill has said he intends to get his degree, which suggests he'll be around Raleigh for another two years. His next major challenge is trying to play his way into the U.S. Open, something he'll do in two weeks in Columbus, Ohio.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Matt, great to see another Wolfpack champion. Good luck qualifying for the US Open as well.


Anonymous said...

...another Wolfpack champion? An oxymoron, unless you consider gymnastics as relevant.

Anonymous said...

Probably a UNC fan that went to CPCC or some other irrelevant college. Enjoy the bandwagon

Andy of said...

It is always great to hear stories of young golfers coming through the ranks and following their progress through the early stage in their career much before they begin to turn the heads of the international media. Quite often, a player suddenly jumps into the collective conscience of the world media by making a splash in a big tournament. But I don’t think there is a single golfer in the world who manages that without leaving a definite mark at the amateur stage or wherever they pick of golf initially. I had a chance to read a few stories about this 20-year-old youngster and he seems to have an appetite for wins. That is an incredibly important criteria if a young golfer wants to make it big- the hunger for success and he seems to have that.

He doesn’t seem to want to turn pro anytime soon and I think as long as he feels he has the scope to improve he must continue at the same level. But the moment he feels that there is no real competition, and that is something he has to seriously consider taking into account that he has won seven of his last eight tournament, he must take the plunge into the next level.