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Magnificent Miller captures 103rd Open Championship

  ARDMORE, Pa.–Not even an errant step could keep Mark Miller of Yardley CC from the 103rd Open Championship title and the biggest victory of his young, amateur career. Miller, 21, of Levittown, Pa., incurred a penalty stroke after moving his golf ball while searching for it in the right fescue on the 14th hole (par 4, 418 yards) but somehow kept his senses for a career-defining triumph on Monday at the fabled East Course of Merion GC (par 70, 6,654 yards).

Miller finished at even-par 140 for the 36 holes (69-71) to edge Mark Sheftic (rounds of 70-71), an assistant professional at Sunnybrook GC, and the remainder of the 72-player field, by a stroke.

“I didn’t sign up because I didn’t think I could win. I knew I just had to play well,” said a surprising subdued Miller. ” When I got up-and-down [on No. 14] from 75 yards for a bogey that was big.”

  Miller, who had a three-shot lead at the time of the infraction, followed that bogey with a four on No. 15 (par 4, 416 yards) before uncharacteristically missing a two-foot par save on the treacherous 16th (par 4, 435 yards). Miller’s lead had dwindled to a shot as Sheftic, who completed his final round a few hours earlier, sat and waited. On the intimidating 17th (par 3, 220 yards), Miller appeared to be in more trouble when his 4-iron landed some 40-feet short of the hole. His first putt didn’t travel as expected and he was left with a left-to-right 12-footer, up a swale for par. He made it. That seemed to be a common thread in Miller’s game all day. He converted almost every par saving opportunity he had.

  On the difficult and historic 18th (par 4, 463 yards), Miller’s drive was solid and found the right side of the fairway, ironically, stopping parallel to the Ben Hogan 1-iron plaque. And as that legendary figure did in 1950, Miller, too, found the green.

  Hogan two-putted for par to force a U.S. Open Championship playoff that year, in which he eventually won. Miller’s 4-iron from 216 yards stopped about 40 feet left of the hole. He rolled it up to about four feet. His final stroke immediately sealing the victory and capping a final-round 1-under-par 69.

 Sheftic, a lifelong Hogan admirer, almost scripted his own magical ending when he drained a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to finish at 1-over par. Sheftic was rock solid tee-to-green all day.

  “I’ve always idolized [Ben] Hogan. When I was growing up my dad would sit down and watch tapes of Hogan over and over,” said Sheftic, 32, of Ambler, Pa. “You walk down [the 18th fairway] and look at the plaque. It almost gives you a little chill up your back. [You say] wow this is where Hogan did it and I just birdied the 18th.”

  Sheftic might not have earned the trophy, but he did finish as the low professional to earn the $8,000 first prize.

  This Open was the first solely administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. The field size increased to 72 players from the customary 60 and offered the most lucrative purse in the history of the tournament, $40,000.

  Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 135 Member Clubs and 60,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The purpose of the Association is simple: To promote, protect and preserve the game of golf in the region.

  NOTES–The second round started with a compact leaderboard as 14 guys stood within four shots. As round two progressed, however, Sheftic and Miller separated themselves … the Golf Association of Philadelphia would like to thank Tweeter Entertainment for providing the plasma screens used for its live scoring.

Name Club Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Total
Mark Miller (a) Yardley Country Club 71 69 140
Mark Sheftic Sunnybrook Golf Club 70 71 141
Christopher Gray Hartefeld National 73 70 143
Robert Robertson (a) Sunnybrook Golf Club 72 73 145
Jeffrey L Griest (a) Waynesborough Country Club 75 70 145
Christopher Lange (a) Overbrook Golf Club 73 72 145
Stuart Ingraham Overbrook Golf Club 69 76 145
David McNabb Cavaliers Country Club 73 72 145
Kyle Davis (a) Fieldstone Golf Club 73 73 146
Adam Corson Toftrees Resort 73 73 146
Graham Dendler Trenton Country Club 74 72 146
Rich Steinmetz Spring Ford Country Club 71 76 147
Adam Cohan (a) The ACE Club 71 76 147
John Michael Pelet (a) Wyncote Golf Club 75 72 147
Jason Hrynkiw Philadelphia Country Club 76 71 147
Andy Achenbach (a) RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve 78 70 148
Brian Kelly Bucknell Golf Club 76 72 148
George Forster Radnor Valley Country Club 74 74 148
James Sullivan, Jr. (a) Huntingdon Valley Country Club 74 74 148
Robert de Rojas (a) RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve 78 71 149
Michael Ladden Whitford Country Club 74 75 149
Rick Hughart Tavistock Country Club 76 73 149
Brian Gillespie (a) St. Davids Golf Club 76 73 149
Matt Raudenbush (a) Pine Valley Golf Club 77 72 149
Jeffrey Haas Lu Lu Country Club 77 72 149
Douglas Zelner (a) Coatesville Country Club 78 72 150
John Pillar, Sr. CC at Woodloch Springs 76 74 150
John DiMarco Laurel Creek Country Club 78 72 150
Chip Lutz (a) LedgeRock Golf Club 76 74 150
Barry Dear South Jersey Golf Center 79 71 150
Michael Moses Concord Country Club 73 77 150
Travis Deibert Commonwealth National Golf Club 75 75 150
Gregory Farrow Deerwood Country Club 80 71 151
John Appleget Cape May National 76 75 151
Alan Borowsky (a) White Manor Country Club 74 77 151
Paul Viola Bethlehem Golf Club 76 75 151
Philip Bartholomew (a) Yardley Country Club 73 78 151
Paul Oglesby Merion Golf Club 73 78 151
Steve M. Cutler (a) Hartefeld National 75 77 152
Terry Hatch Hidden Valley Golf Course 78 74 152
Paul Rogowicz (a) Yardley Country Club 78 75 153
Chris Anderson (a) Wilmington Country Club 78 75 153
Sean Leonard (a) Tavistock Country Club 78 75 153
David Quinn Links Golf Club 77 76 153
Stephen Arnold (a) Yardley Country Club 76 77 153
Cole Willcox (a) Philadelphia Country Club 75 78 153
Billy McCrossan (a) White Manor Country Club 78 75 153
James Kania, Jr. (a) Overbrook Golf Club 78 76 154
David Olexson Lehigh Country Club 80 74 154
Vince Ramagli Burlington Country Club 75 79 154
Chris Gallagher (a) Penn Oaks Golf Club 81 73 154
Michael McDermott (a) Merion Golf Club 78 77 155
Robert Galbreath, Jr. (a) Huntingdon Valley Country Club 77 79 156
Greg Wolfe (a) Cavaliers Country Club 75 81 156
Logan Terry (a) Plymouth Country Club 80 76 156
Terry Hertzog Bent Creek Country Club 80 76 156
David Liotta (a) Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 80 77 157
Jeff LeFevre Linwood Country Club 77 80 157
Anthony Bonargo Bucks County Golf Club 78 79 157
Rob Shuey Ben’s Power Golf Learning Center 78 80 158
Scott Nye Merion Golf Club 79 80 159
Donald DeAngelis Woods Golf Center 80 80 160
Eric McNamee Stonewall 78 83 161
Michael O’Keefe (a) Little Mill Country Club 79 83 162
Jamie Slonis (a) Tavistock Country Club 80 82 162
Andrew Lawson (a) Hershey’s Mill Golf Club 86 79 165
Ken Matt (a) Commonwealth National Golf Club 83 82 165
Dan Haskell Medford Lakes Country Club 84 82 166
Matthew Pesci (a) Yardley Country Club 81 86 167
Mark Czerniakowski (a) Blue Bell Country Club 80 89 169
Patrick Hardin (a) Northampton Country Club 86 85 171
Lance T. Oberparleiter (a) Wedgwood Country Club 90 82 172
(a)-amateur