Club pro Mike Miles enjoys breakthrough year

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Mike Miles had just finished nine holes of a practice round at Hazeltine National when he stepped off the ninth green to take a picture with some family and friends.
 
Make sure you get the scoreboard in it, Miles told a fan who volunteered to take the photo.
 
Just over his right shoulder was the leaderboard that read, Welcome to the 91st annual PGA Championship.
 
Michael Miles
Mike Miles shot 78-69 to miss the cut at this year's U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
When Miles first got his Tour card at age 24, there was no way he thought it would take him 23 years to get here.
 
I made all the mistakes that a 24-year-old with a Tour card can make, Miles said Wednesday. Too many tournaments. Too many swing changes. Too much golf. Thats my story. Im not the only one.
 
Yet here he is, finally, at 47, playing the best golf of his life and appearing in his second major of the summer. Until this year, the only major he had played was the 1987 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
 
Miles made birdie on the first playoff hole in the second stage of qualifying to earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. He was among 20 club pros who qualified for the PGA Championship.
 
The assistant pro from Huntington Beach, Calif., will have played in more majors this year than Scott Verplank and Woody Austin, two guys who only two years ago played in the Presidents Cup.
 
The rebirth is anything but a surprise to Paul Goydos, a PGA Tour member since 1993 who was a freshman at Long Beach State when Miles was a senior. Goydos belongs to Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, where Miles now works.
 
I think hes probably a couple of putts here, a couple of putts there, 20 years ago, from me and him switching positions, Goydos said. Im not a better player than Mike Miles. Thats just fact.
 
Miles would concur.
 
Ive always been a good player. I was a good player when I was on tour but I kind of played my way off the tour, he said. I played too much and worked too hard on it.
 
Miles played on the Tour in 1986 and 1989, but flamed out quickly. Exhausted and frustrated, he gave up the game for seven years to work in real estate and marketing, a familiar tale of a talented player who couldnt quite put things together to stick around.
 
Theres a thousand Mike Mileses out there who were good enough to play on the tour and it just didnt happen for whatever reason, Goydos said. We underestimate timing and luck in a sense. Hes got the game to have been a Tour player for the last 20 years and, for whatever reason, it didnt work out for him like it did for me.
 
After his long hiatus, Miles was watching a friend play well at a Nationwide Tour event and it was easy to see that old gleam return to his eye.
 
I hadnt even played golf in five years, Miles said. I looked at my wife and she said, You want to start playing again, dont you? And that was big.
 
He took the assistant pro job and began teaching the game. But it wasnt until he accompanied a few members of Virginia Country Club to the Masters this spring that the fires really were stoked. He watched Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player play in the Par 3 Tournament and realized his golfing career wasnt over.
 
That really was amazing to watch, he said. Those were the guys when I was little that all I wanted to do was be like that. That was an emotional thing for me. You realize, Shoot, I could relive that all these years later when Im 50.
 
He finished 16th in the PGA Professional National Championship, joining the 20 club pros invited to play in the final major of the year. And even though he missed the cut at Bethpage Black, he arrives in Minnesota brimming with the optimism and energy that had once been extinguished by his struggles on the course earlier in life.
 
Im looking for a good finish. Thats what I hope for. And a big check, he said with a chuckle. Theyre giving away a lot of money and I would like to take some of it home.
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.