Miller shoots career low 63
Most golfers have gotten that unforgettable feeling for a shot or two. Some have even played stretches of a few holes or more where the ball just seemed to go where they wanted it to on nearly every shot.
But very, very few golfers can sustain that for an entire round.
One of those few is Northwestern junior Cole Miller. In a match against Pen Argyl on August 27 Miller shot a career low 63. He made nine birdies and no bogeys, shooting 3-under par on the front nine and a 6-under 30 on the back side.
His previous low was 64, shot at his home course, Blue Ridge Country Club. But he wasn't thinking about that number a few weeks ago while he marched to the 63 at Olde Homestead.
"I was thinking about how well I was playing," he said. "The game just seemed pretty easy at the time. I kept chugging away. I wasn't too focused on a number."
Miller hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and made up and down par saves on the other three. He rolled 26 putts in his round, which started with a two-putt birdie on the par 5 first hole.
"I lipped out my eagle putt," Miller said. "But that got me off to a good start.
"I think more than anything I was hitting my wedges a lot better that day than normally. I think my average birdie putt made was like 10 feet."
The 63 was played from the gold Homesteader tees, which measure 6,049 yards. It's a course record from those tees and possibly the lowest score ever shot at the course. The course record from the deeper tees is 65.
While that's his lowest round all year, Miller had kept his scores in the 60s every match until Monday, when he carded a 2-under par 70 on a windy Olde Homestead course.
"My putter's coming around and my driver's in play," he said. "That's really what you need on courses like this.
"This is the perfect time of year to be playing good golf. You have some big tournaments coming up, like the Lehigh Valley Amateur and states."
Miller will try to defend his Colonial League title a week from today at the league tournament, held at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.
Miller has an ability to consistently hit great shots, but that's only part of what makes him so successful. His head coach praised his patience, which was needed during Monday's wind-swept round of 70.
"He wasn't playing as well as he felt he should be today," said Northwestern head coach Tim Miller. "But he stays patient. He doesn't get ahead of himself when he's playing. He has an ability to stay in the moment and play every shot for what it's worth."
Miller hopes to continue his play through the high school postseason and Lehigh Valley Amateur Tournament, which is held at Green Pond at the end of this month.
TO CL PLAYOFF
For the second straight season Northwestern will be part of the four-team Colonial League Golf Championship.
The team tournament takes place next Wednesday alongside the individual league championship at Bethlehem Municipal.
The Tigers (9-3) clinched the playoff berth with Monday's win over Bangor.
While Miller has been the team's low scorer at every match, teammate Nick Vecellio has also shot some low numbers. The junior fired a 4-under par 68 last week at Blue Ridge Country Club to help the team beat Bangor. He is often the second-lowest scorer in team matches, right behind Miller.
Vecellio placed 12th at leagues last year and played in his first District 11 Championship after shooting an 83 at the qualifying tournament. If he can return to the tournament this year, he will compete in the first field that will be separated into two classes. The PIAA and its districts will crown champs in Class AA and AAA this year for the first time.
While the Tigers have a lot of fire power in the top two spots, the rest of the team has also been improving and contributing this season.
"Some of our guys are progressing pretty well, some of our newer players," said Cole Miller. "One (Kevin Shuey) just broke 100 for his first time. Another (Zack Carusso) is on the verge of breaking 80."
The team also has a shot to earn a spot in the District 11 team tournament, which is also separated into two classes this year, meaning eight teams will compete (four in each class) this year instead of just league champion teams.
The team champs from all four leagues still earn automatic berths. The other four teams will be selected based on a ranking system.
As of Wednesday morning's Press deadline, the Tigers were in fourth place in the Class AA rankings. If all four league champs are Class AAA teams, which is possible with Southern Lehigh and Blue Mountain in the contention for league titles, then the top four teams in Class AA will all make it to team districts.
DISTRICT 11 GOLF POSTSEASON
This season marks the first time District 11 will crown individual champions in two classes.
The Class AA and AAA tournaments will take place at the same course on the same day, October 8 at Shawnee Golf Resort.
The district qualifier will be held a week earlier at Woodstone Country Club in Danielsville. The top 20 boys scores plus ties will advance to the Class AAA championship while the top 18 scores plus ties advance in Class AA.
A qualifying tournament will not be used for the District 11 girls players. Because their numbers are fewer, any girl who averages 100 or less gets into the district tournament field.
Two District 11 team champs will also be crowned this year for the first time. League team champs from all four leagues (Schuylkill, Mountain Valley, Colonial and Lehigh Valley) will play in the team championship. The rest of the teams will be selected based on rankings points.
Four teams in each class will play for the team title on Wednesday, October 3 at Willowbrook Golf Course in Catasauqua.
The splitting of the field means the past two individual district champs, Northwetsern's Cole Miller (2011) and Northampton's Evan Notaro (2010) will not compete against one another at districts, regionals or states.
"I'm a little disappointed that they are changing some of it," Miller said. "When you are playing competitive golf you want to play against everyone."