Matt Hill is hoping this is the year.
The 27-year-old, Sarnia-born golfer will begin his fifth season on the Canadian Tour (officially, the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada) when he tees it up in the circuit’s opening event of 2016, later this month in Vancouver.
With four seasons on the Canadian Tour under his belt, Hill has established himself as one of the marquee players on the circuit (he even won the Order of Merit, as the Tour’s top money-winner, in his first full season, 2012).
But he’s yearning to take that next step, the breakthrough season he needs to catapult him onto the big stage – the PGA Tour.
When Hill turned pro six years ago (after completing one of the most dominant seasons in NCAA golf history), it looked like he might be on the fast track to golfing stardom. But, he says, he accepts that sometimes these things take time.
“Six years … it doesn’t seem that long ago,” said Hill, recently, in a phone interview from his Jupiter, Florida home.
“I’m definitely not where I want to be – I want to be playing every week on the PGA Tour,” said Hill. “But some guys take a little longer than others to get there. Mike Weir was 28 when he made it. I think David Hearn was 30 when he made it to stay.
“When I think back to when I first turned pro, I would say I definitely thought I’d be out there (on the PGA Tour) by now. But it’s a crazy game. There are lots of great players out there,” said Hill. “But I’m still optimistic and I’m still working hard, always trying to improve.”
In the past, Hill has played on the Latin Tour, before and after the Canadian Tour season. But this year, he had “some back issues” that forced him to change his plans.
“I took January and February off this year. I didn’t touch a club,” said Hill.
He did work out daily, though, doing yoga and trying to strengthen his core to reduce the stress on his back.
The results have been very encouraging. In his first event since the layoff, Hill, playing in an NGA Golf Tour event, finished fourth.
“That was definitely a confidence-booster, going into the season,” said Hill, adding his back “felt great” throughout the event. “I was moving really well.”
The PGA Tour Canada’s 12-event schedule will see Hill play in six different provinces. The tour will, once again, conclude with the Freedom 55 Financial Championship event, Sept. 15-18, at London’s Highland Country Club.