Miller delivers high drama in Columbus

By June 5, 2012, 3:29 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio - In the waning light of golf's longest day, Dennis Miller had his moment in the sun.

Miller arrived on the 18th green at Scioto CC, on the fourth hole of a four-man playoff for three spots in the U.S. Open. The 42-year-old had hit a 330-yard drive to start his 40th hole of the day. His aggressive approach to back-right pin on the firm green had rolled to the back fringe.

In better shape than the remaining participants, Scott Piercy and Justin Hicks, Miller lined up his 25-foot birdie putt with the circa 1992 Maxfli Tad Moore putter he put in the bag on Monday morning.

Miller struck the putt. The pace was perfect. The line was true. It should have gone in, but it stopped on the edge of the cup. A collective groan came from the crowd of 75 around the green.

Maybe it was the rumble of noise, or a gust of wind, but as Miller walked head-down to his ball, it disappeared into the cup.

'I didn't even see it go in,' he said.

The crowd roared. Miller looked up to see his destiny and celebrated with fist pumps, smiles and unadulterated joy. After 12 attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open and seven times at sectionals, Miller was in the U.S. Open.

As he walked off the green, the gallery walked up to shake his hand, pat him on the back and wish him well. One of us had gotten into the U.S. Open. It was time for every man to celebrate the everyman.

Miller made the trek from Youngstown, Ohio, where he has been the director of golf for Mill Creek Metro Parks for the last dozen years. Friend Kirk Hough accompanied Miller to be on the bag, as he has for tournaments during Miller's entire stint in his current job.

At 6:15 a.m., Miller arrived to Scioto CC - a course he had never seen - as the third alternate in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier. About 35 minutes later, tournament officials told Miller he was in the 7:50 a.m. tee time from Scioto's first hole. David Hearn had withdrawn.

With just 20 strokes with his new putter under his belt, Miller hit the tee box. Just around 6 p.m., he arrived at the scoring table at the Scarlet Course of the Ohio State University Golf Club at even-par 141.

Scores were updated on both sites only in nine-hole intervals. At that time, more than 20 players were a 1 under or better. Miller thought he had failed again.

'That number is the worst possible number for me,' Miller said to Hough after looking at the scoreboard.

The number, like the berth-clinching putt, turned out to be just right.

Clearly nervous as the playoff began back at Scioto’s par-3 ninth, Miller made a routine par at the first hole of sudden death. He sank a six-foot par putt at the second hole to stay alive after first alternate Morgan Hoffmann made birdie to lock up the first of the three spots.

His luck seemed to run out, however, at the third playoff hole, the downhill par-3 17th. Miller found the back bunker, where his ball came to rest just in front of a rock. The explosion shot imparted no spin on the ball. With 15 feet for par, Miller poured it right in the heart. Fitting.

The final hole was played flawlessly. He was long of the tee, aggressive with his approach and had the deftest of touch with his putt.

Hough knew the window was closing on his friend to realize a dream. The window was open just enough.

'He's like a good wine,' Hough said. 'He gets better with age.'

Miller is San Francisco-bound, but he was already heading to the Golden State this month. He had intended to go to the Monterey Peninsula on June 20 to prepare for the PGA Professional National Championship.  Now he can extend his stay in the Bay Area.

Hough will be on the bag in the Open, able to collect a small caddie stipend if Miller can make the cut.

'I'll take whatever he wants to give me,' Hough said with a smile.

Miller gives plenty. He has worked tirelessly to expand the junior golf program back in Youngstown, sacrificing time with his wife and five-year-old son, Nathan.

This good guy didn't finish first. But, in this case, 15th was just as rewarding.

'This is as close to 'Tin Cup' as it gets,' Hough said.

Hollywood isn't all that far away from Olympic Club.

In four years, Scioto CC will host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open. Unfortunately, Miller will not yet be old enough to compete with the 50-plus set. A Scioto member helping run the event seemed more than accommodative as he said, 'Maybe we'll have to do it again.'

If only every tournament could end this way.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: