Canadas Next Great Hope

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He grew up a star hockey player during the long harsh winters in Oshawa, Ontario. And of course he curled. The competition between Jon Mills and his older siblings was thick those winters on the curling rink, a sport so bewildering for most Americans that drives Canadians into a passion. But when the frosts began to thaw, Jon Mills had a golf club in hand.
 
'It was a tough decision to drop playing hockey,' he glances up quizzically as if someone standing over his shoulder might whisper the answer. 'I don't really know how it happened. I really loved hockey but felt I was a little better at golf.'
 
Jon Mills
Jon Mills currently holds down the No. 6 spot on the Nationwide Money List.
These types of moments tend to characterize Jon Mills. There was no earth shattering moment, no visions appearing or challenges to over come, no old golf legends inspiring him. Golf and life just seems to flow for this first team All-American out of Kent State University.

After playing junior and high school golf Mills cruised to exceptional status at Kent State, the first school he visited, where he was a teammate of 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis. In the dorms his sophomore year he met a nice girl who played on the basketball team, she is now his wife. He always revered his brother and sister and his parents Dave and Judy are among the rare supportive yet un-possessive types.
 
And now at 27-years-old, Mills has a quiet, secure demeanor that disarms people.
 
'He's a nice guy who always says hello in the locker room,' says Jeff Quinney who played with Mills on the Canadian Tour.
 
'He doesn't get mad, he doesn't get stressed. He's just flowing along. He's just a solid player, there's really not much else to say,' says six-year Nationwide Tour player Jason Caron.
 
'That's just the whole point,' proclaims Golf Channel Host Brian Anderson. 'Mills doesn't have an extraordinary presence. He's a humble guy from a great family. He doesn't look the part, he doesn't act the part. And all of a sudden, he unloads on it. He hits the ball a hundred miles. And he's not a big guy.'
 
And that's exactly what Kent State Head Coach Herb Page noticed the first time he saw Mills.
 
'I was way up in Berry, Ontario recruiting, I was actually up there watching Bryan DeCorso, and here's this Jon Mills kid,' says Page, a fellow Canadian who bellows with enthusiasm for his protg. 'I remember watching him hit balls, a real skinny little kid but he had power and I've never forgotten it. I said I'm going to keep an eye on him.'
 
Since then Page has become a lifetime friend and coach, and a fiercely loyal fan. 'The nice thing about Jon Mills is that he's such a great person. He's a better person than he is a golfer. And he's a hell of a golfer.'
 
Page says that the only challenge Mills faced in college was that he had some streaky putting for a spell, a minor weak point that with Coach Pages attention and some hard work, has turned into a consistency. Mills overall game has improved steadily every year since.
 
After college, Mills went straight to the Nationwide Tour and faltered, making only four cuts in 19 starts in 2002.
 
'I knew I might have gotten ahead of myself,' says Mills who speaks of his own 'development' in an incredibly measured sense. Mills joined the Canadian Tour, which quickly gave him the confidence he needed. He led the tour in 2003 and earned the Order of Merit becoming the first Canadian to win it since Mike Weir in 1997.
 
'Through it all he's never changed,' says Page. 'He's just a fine young man. Very low key, no ego. But I'm going to tell you the other thing. When he gets the lead, he's tough to beat.'
 
Today Mills is gaining that lead. He has launched himself to No. 6 on the Nationwide Tour money list with his win at last months Canadian PGA Championship in Cambridge, Ontario, all but securing his PGA Tour card.
 
The win on his home turf says something about Mills.
 
'Many guys crumble under the pressure of playing among hometown friends and family, but with Mills it inspired him,' says Golf Channel analyst and PGA Tour winner Curt Byrum. 'One thing is, Canada is always
looking for that guy. The new star coming out of Canada. It's huge; the whole nation gets behind you.'
 
Mills is willing to be that guy. 'I would love to get there. I liked the tournament at home, when they're totally behind you it's a pretty neat feeling. There aren't a lot of Canadians out there.'
 
But for now, Mills is enjoying his time and grateful to prove that he could play well one week and pull out a win the next. He admits it's definitely a little more relaxing now. He's just trying to maintain his focus and finish well this week at the Cox Classic, the Nationwide Tour's 19th event.

'He is a tremendous talent that is just beginning to be realized,' says Curt Byrum. 'There are guys that can pull of a win here and there, but he has that talent. You can't teach somebody length. The only thing that was missing was that win, and he got it.'
 
Related Links:
Jon Mills' Bio
Full Coverage - Cox Classic