From rags to riches overnight. That could be a quick summary of Mark Millers game in a one week span this summer.
21-year-old was in the midst of a whirlwind series of tournament play
when he nerves started to fray. A few poor shots later and the Yardley
Country Club member was totally frustrated with his game.
went from being a strong B game to a C
good, but not good enough,
starting down hill in the Pennsylvania State Amateur and into the
middle of the YCC mens club championship.
holes into his semifinal match with Steve Arnold exhaustion then
frustration set in, prompting Miller to do the unthinkable: concede his
match early and head home for rest. I
was playing alright, the match was close, but as I stood over a shot my
mind wasnt totally there, I had burnt myself out, explained Miller.
Steve understood, he could tell my mind was not totally in the game.
spent the rest of that day and the next away from golf. No playing, mo
practice, no walking the course. He did, though, remember a drill that
had helped him in the past. . "I thought back to when my game was at a
higher level, and then remembered a drill my coach gave me. It involves
taking practice swings with flashlights and watching the plane of my
swing. After an hour or so it all clicked."
arrived for his tee time at the Philadelphia Open Championship at
historic Merion (East) in a rejuvenated state of mind and hauling his A
Game. With his head in the game his swing followed, and with little
fanfare he became the first amateur from Bucks County to win the Golf
Association of Philadelphia's Open Championship.
Yardley Country Club member and Bucks County Community College student
from Levittown was a picture of perfection at Merion, defeating 71
players with rounds of 71 and 69 for an even-par 140 total. That gave
him a one-shot win over Sunnybrook assistant professional Mark Sheftic.
game plan was simple. It was to basically hit fairways and greens and
try to make some putts, it was as simple as that, said Miller. You
have to keep the ball in play at Merion, and I was fortunate enough to
do that for most of the 36 holes.
balanced seven birdies against seven bogeys at the course which has
hosted 17 United States Golf Association championship events. A course
which USGA executive director David Fay calls a wonderful test of
quest nearly came to an early end when he accidentally stepped on his
ball while searching in the long rough guarding a bunker on the 14th
hole during the 2nd round. He incurred a one-shot penalty, but retained
his wits and made bogey. I
was peeved, but somehow I shook it off, said Miller, who saw his
3-shot advantage shrink by 1 after the penalty and by 1 more when he
jerked a tap-in putt on 16. But he sank a pressure-packed 14-footer on
17 for par then played the famed 18th hole perfect to secure the win.
knew where I was most of the day, kicked myself for giving back a
couple shots but am proud of the way I handled adversity," said Miller.
back from a burnout to play well is one thing, winning one of the Golf
Association of Philadelphias major championships is another huge step
in the growth of his game.