Throughout the entire 2001-2002 season, sophomore Camilla Hilland’s biggest goal was to win a collegiate golf tournament. When the Hurricanes completed their biggest tournament of the year, Hilland accomplished her goal.
On April 7, Hilland sunk an 18-foot putt on the final hole of the Ryder Florida Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship to win the Miami Lakes tournament by one stroke over Florida State’s Kristin Tamulis. The sophomore from Lommedalen, Norway fired back to back 70’s through the first two rounds, and although bad weather affected Hilland’s game on Sunday, she was to fight through heavy winds to secure the victory.
“It feels great to win,” Hilland said. “It was really exciting because I didn’t know what was going to happen, whether I would be going into a playoff or not, and it’s just a great way to end the semester, especially with my family watching.”
The road to the state championship began in Norway, where Hilland won three Norwegian National Ladies Tour Championships. She arrived at the University of Miami in the fall of 1999, boasting a ranking as high as No. 2 in her home country. Hilland found adjusting to college life difficult, at first.
“The field is much better and more competitive here,” Hilland said. “Outside of that, my biggest problem was balancing schoolwork and studying with golf, which was very hard at first.”
Head Coach Lela Cannon decided to redshirt Hilland for the spring 2000 semester. The following year, Hilland participated in nine tournaments, producing one top-10 finish, and leading the Hurricanes in two tournaments. Hilland may not have posted consistent results for the squad, but Cannon liked what she saw out of her freshman.
“To get involved in our way of life is very difficult,” Cannon said. “Camilla did a good job making the adjustment, but what was more impressive was that she realized what she had to do.”
Hilland had a successful run last fall, finishing third at the Mission Inn Invitational, and posting her highest result in the fall, a second-place finish at Alabama Capstone tournament. Hilland attributed her fall results to the rounds she played in Norway over the summer.
“I played well at home over the summer, and that made it easier to come back,” Hilland said. “I guess I was just used to playing a lot of golf, and got on a roll, and when you’re on a roll, it’s easier to continue to have success.”
Hilland’s play regressed over the past month, finishing sixth at both the Waterlefe Invitational and the Lady Moc Invitational.
However, that all changed after Hilland took a five-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Ryder Championship. Tamulis, who trailed by six strokes after two rounds, shot a 74, and was one of the few golfers who were able to play through the strong wind gusts and chilly weather.
Hilland shot a 79 in the final round at the Ryder Championship, but finished strong, paring three consecutive holes to claim the one-stroke victory and Miami’s first state championship since Tracy Kerdyk, who won the title in 1988.
“The win was a little surprising,” Hilland said. “I go into every tournament with the goal to win, but I had been pushing myself a little too hard. I was more relaxed, though, and just wanted to go in and try and focus on every shot, rather than the victory.”
Hilland may have been surprised, but her coach wasn’t.
“Camilla has always been a very focused player,” Cannon said. “She knows what she wants, and has been showing much more maturity, and to win in front of her parents was a great experience for a very special lady.”
The Hurricanes ended an up-and down season strong with a fourth place finish in the Ryder Championships. Miami has several new golfers for the 2002-2003 season. As for Hilland, although she finished the year on top, the 22-year-old sees improvements that can be made in her game as well.
“I’m here to represent the university and to do my job as well, and it’s important to keep working on your game,” Hilland said. “I know that even though I won, there is a lot that I need to work on, and hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”