124th BMW Philadelphia Amateur: Day Two Notebook - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Miller, Eichenlaub gain quarterfinals; defending champion Crowley reminisces

LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. – Mark Miller spent the better part of six years trying to chase his dream of playing professional golf. 

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His victory as an amateur in the 2007 Philadelphia Open at Merion Golf Club (East) helped push Miller toward giving it a shot. The attempt didn’t go well. He regained his amateur status shortly after giving up on his professional dreams in 2015.


“I was just spinning my wheels,” Miller said. “I had a hard conversation with myself when I was having a rough time and asked if I was going to be someone who just has a set of golf clubs to his name. I knew that I needed to change so that I could make something out of my future.”

Miller, with a fresh perspective and a resolute determination, finds himself in the Quarterfinals of the 124th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.

The No. 5 seed took out No. 28 seed Ward McHenry of Spring Ford Country Club in 20 holes. In the Round of 16, Miller held off a charging Connor Sheehan of Tanglewood Manor Golf Club, the No. 12 seed, 1-up.

“I am excited to be playing golf and not golf swing,” Miller, 38, of Chestnut Hill, Pa., said. “I love to compete, and it is nice to be back in the amateur golf arena again. This tournament is really taxing. You need a good mental game. Today was all about weathering the storm good or bad. My mental preparation and experience helped me today.”

A tale of two matches. He didn’t lead until the last hole against McHenry and relinquished a 4-up through 11 lead against Sheehan. But that didn’t phase him. Miller ended any doubt with a cold-blooded birdie on the final hole of the match, No. 9 (par 3, 108 yards). He hit a sand wedge to 20 feet and slowly dripped it down to the bottom of the cup.

“I could have buckled and folded after losing the lead that I did,” Miller said. “Connor had all of the momentum coming in. I had to reset and get my stuff together. It’s a long day. I am not sure if the mistakes were because I was tired or if I was just in some bad spots. In this event, you battle and you hate to see anyone lose, but there’s only one winner and one loser. I certainly didn’t want to go home. When you are under the gun, making a putt like that is what gives you the confidence in the next match.”

Miller currently serves as the Director of Fitness at Philadelphia Cricket Club. He got his start there as a professional in 2013. He’s been on staff since.

“I went on staff with Jim Smith, Jr. as a professional at Philadelphia Cricket Club,” Miller said. “ I could have stayed as a PGA professional and did all of that, but the camaraderie just wasn’t there. All of my closest friends were elite amateur players. I knew you could have a really good life, play exceptional amateur golf and get the juices flowing again. There’s enough tradition and prestige in amateur golf for it to matter.”

Eichenlaub leads Saucon Valley collective to collect first title

Evan Eichenlaub is Saucon Valley Country Club’s final hope to capture the club’s first Philadelphia Amateur title.

Eichenlaub, two-time GAP Major champion Matt Mattare, Anthony Cordaro and Thomas Young represented the club’s efforts. Mattare and Cordaro missed match play. Young got knocked out in the Round of 16.

The sturdy youngster punched his ticket to the Quarterfinals as the No. 26 seed. He took out No. 7 seed Tyler McGarry of Huntsville Golf Club, 4&2, in the Round of 32. He ousted No. 23 seed Andrew Curran of Philadelphia Cricket, 1-up, in the Round of 16.

“I don’t think making the quarterfinals has sunk in yet,” Eichenlaub, 18, of Bethlehem, Pa., said. “Being able to advance in this tournament has been great. I have played pretty steady golf. At Whitemarsh Valley, you have to be in the right spots on the greens. I feel like I have done a good job of that so far.”


Eichenlaub, who just won his second-consecutive Pennsylvania Four-Ball with Cordaro, credits Saucon Valley for the growth in his game and character.

“Everyone always tells you to play with someone better than you,” Eichenlaub said. “I think since all of us are around the same skill level, it drives us to play off each other’s good shots because there is always pressure and stuff on the line. We are all friends, but we do want to beat each other.” 

Shaking his head after a 2-down through five start against Curran, Eichenlaub kicked it into gear by winning Nos. 6 (par 4, 373 yards) 7 (par 4, 438 yards) and 9 (par 3, 108 yards).

He staved off Curran who missed a 6-footer for par at the last (par 4, 464 yards) to extend the match. 

Eichenlaub, a rising sophomore at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., finished fifth on the team in total rounds played 16 and scoring average (75.88) during his freshman season.

“I played in a decent amount of events at Babson this year,” Eichenlaub said. “I learned a lot because I was living in a new area and up in that territory you can’t practice that much. You have to learn how to take all the work you do inside and translate it to the course when the time comes.”

Eichenlaub gets the red-hot No. 2 seed Austin Barbin, of Chesapeake Bay Golf Club, in the Quarterfinals. Barbin is coming off a victory at the Maryland Amateur last week.

“I am chasing my potential on a day-to-day basis,” Eichenlaub said. “I feel like I can play better golf. I want to go out and hit quality golf shot after quality golf shot. I am looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow to get to the Final by playing two more good matches.”


Defending Champion Crowley exits

Michael Crowley was looking to become the first player to successfully win consecutive Philadelphia Amateur titles since Manasquan River Golf Club’s Jeremy Wall in 2017-18.

Crowley defeated home club hopeful Patrick Isztwan, 7&6, at Huntingdon Valley Country Club last June in his first appearance in the event.

His title defense ended at the hands of home club hopeful, Will Davenport, 4&2 in the Round of 16. He qualified as the No. 13 seed.

“It is so hard to win this thing,” Crowley, 22, of Hunt Valley, Md., said. “I was pleased to get through stroke play. I just was a little sloppy overall. I didn’t have enough this afternoon against Will. He is a solid player who doesn’t make any mistakes. I wasn’t hitting my spots well.”

Crowley is heading into his fifth and final season at Loyola University Maryland. 

“Winning the Philadelphia Amateur gave me a lot of satisfaction,” Crowley said. “When you play in a lot of tournaments it can be taxing but winning an event means all of the hard work has been worth it. Winning validates everything you have been doing. Last year at Huntingdon Valley was just a lot of fun. I didn’t know a ton of people last year, so it was nice to see the people I met at the event last year. I enjoyed my time as the champion.”

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The organization’s 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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