Miller Claims First Title


RANCHO CUCOMONGA, Calif. -- Andy Miller birdied the first playoff hole to claim the $450,000 Buy.Com State Farm Open. Miller defeated Dave Stockton, Jr., John Restino and Doug Garwood in the playoff to earn his first win on the Buy.Com Tour. Each had entered the playoff at 12-under-par 272.
Miller, who is the son of NBC Golf commentator and 25-time PGA Tour winner Johnny Miller, had to wait nearly two hours for the final pairing to finish before the playoff began. Miller, who was a Monday qualifier, becomes the third Monday qualifier to win on the Buy.Com Tour this season.
Garwood, who was playing in the final group for the second time this season, had taken the lead with a birdie at the par-4 sixth. However, after stretching that lead to two strokes, he faltered to let the other three players back into the tournament with bogeys at 16 and 17. Heading to the 16th, Garwood was two strokes clear of Miller, who was finished, and the rest of the field.
On the first playoff hole, which was the 18th hole, Miller was the only player to reach the par-5 in two shots and he two-putted from 40-feet to earn the win. Restino and Stockton each missed their birdie putts, while Garwood was out of the hole with a bogey six.
'I didn't think I had a chance of being in a playoff,' Miller said. 'When I finished the leader was at 14-under. I just thought it was a nice gesture that they told me to stick around and wait for a playoff.'
He closed with a 5-under 66, including birdies on two of the last three holes, to get into the playoff at the Empire Lakes Golf Course. Miller's best previous finish came at the Buy.Com Utah Classic three weeks ago, when he placed fourth.
'Finishing fourth in Utah gave me alot of confidence,' said Miller, who picks up $81,000 and an exemption for the 2003 season with the victory. 'I get to play out here for a year and that is the biggest part about winning.'
Stockton carded a final round 67, while Restino posted a 69 on Sunday and Garwood, the overnight co-leader, shot an even-par 71. Stockton was able to get back into the tournament by carding 10 birdies, against just one bogey, which came during the third round, over his final 36 holes.
'This was my first time all year without a bogey,' said Stockton. 'I hit the putt in the playoff the way I wanted.'
Andy Miller and Dave Stockton, Jr., may be new to the top of the leaderboard, but their fathers, Johnny Miller and Dave Stockton, Sr., have been battling for many years on the PGA Tour and now the Senior PGA Tour.
'It was like turn back the clock with Miller and Stockton on the board,' said Stockton.
'It was funny seeing Stockton and Miller up on the board,' Miller commented.
Keoke Cotner and Jay Delsing finished at 11-under-par to tie for fifth. Joel Kribel, Jason Buha, Andrew McLardy, Tjaart Van Der Walt and Steve Haskins were a shot behind them at minus-10.
Overnight co-leader Ernie Gonzalez struggled to a final round 76, and tied for 25th at 7-under 277. Defending champion D.A. Points finished with a 2-over-par round of 73 and was among nine players at minus-5.
Full-field scores from the State Farm Open