Hill decides to become pro

Top Canadian amateur golfer Matt Hill has decided to skip his final year at college and turn professional.

North Carolina State’s Matt Hill watches his tee shot on the 10th hole

North Carolina State’s Matt Hill watches his tee shot on the 10th hole

Top Canadian amateur golfer Matt Hill has decided to skip his final year at college and turn professional.

The 21-year-old from Bright’s Grove, Ont., announced Monday that he has signed with IMG for management and marketing representation. He’ll make his pro debut this at this week’s PGA Tour event in Ohio.

“It’s a pretty big step in my life,” Hill said Monday before travelling to suburban Columbus for the Memorial.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about and been looking forward to for a long time.”

Hill was one of the top-ranked amateurs in the world last year.

He won the NCAA individual championship and seven other collegiate tournaments during his sophomore season at North Carolina State, earning him the Haskins Award as outstanding collegiate golfer.

Hill, who competed in three PGA Tour events as an amateur last summer, consulted a number of people before deciding to turn pro, including college coach Richard Sykes, Canadian national team coaches Ralph Bauer and Henry Brunton, and his family.

“I felt like my game was ready last year but now I’m finally ready for that lifestyle,” said Hill.

“Last summer I just wanted to get the experience playing in those three tour events and go back to college.”

He doesn’t currently have official status on a professional tour. Hill can accept up to seven exemptions into PGA Tour events — he’s already received one from the AT&T National in July and will likely get one for the RBC Canadian Open — and is willing to play some of the minor-league circuits as well.

It could be a busy summer.

“I think it’s important to keep playing and keep getting experience,” said Hill.

“I’d definitely like to play in some Nationwide events and even Canadian Tour if that comes around. I just want to keep learning about my game and myself.”

His main focus will be preparing for the PGA Tour’s gruelling qualifying school in the fall.

Hill grew up in the same town as 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir and has long dreamed of being a pro golfer. He hopes to match some of Weir’s accomplishments before his career is over.

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