After finding out just a week ago that he was invited to the AT&T National, N.C. State standout Matt Hill fired a 1-over 71 on Thursday, completing a hectic three-month journey for the 20-year-old.
In May, Hill posted a two-stroke win to become the NCAA's individual national champion at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. In June, he was presented with the Jack Nicklaus Award, college golf's top individual honor, at Nicklaus' annual Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. And on the second day in July, Hill played in his first professional event at Congressional Country Club.
"It's been pretty amazing really," Hill said. "I say probably so far the best thing is just getting the Jack Nicklaus Award, meeting Jack and spending some time with him."
Hill started his round on the intimidating par-3 10th. Nearly 220 yards over water, the hole played as the seventh-hardest on the course with a stroke average of 3.1, but Hill birdied it. That's not to say he wasn't anxious, though.
"To be honest with you, it was pretty nerve-racking," said Hill, who plans to go back to school in the fall and turn pro at a later date. "I was shaking pretty good the whole time, but after the first few holes I started getting a little more comfortable."
After a 37 on his first nine holes, Hill, who started on the back nine, made two long par putts on Nos. 1 and 2. Birdie putts on Nos. 6 and 8 gave him a 71.
"I think he did really well," said Kent Copeland, Hill's caddie and teammate at N.C. State. "He could've made some [more] putts, but they just didn't go in."