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Magnificent Miller captures 103rd Open Championship

*FULL VIDEO COVERAGE

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.

  Miller’s victory marked only the 12th time an amateur has captured the Open Championship. Chris Lange of Overbrook GC was the last to do so in 2004.

   “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.

  “That was unbelievable. To be inside two feet and miss and to overcome that was pretty cool,” said Miller. “I just said get over it. It’s over and done with and make up for it on the next two holes.”

  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.

  “My game plan wasn’t going to change regardless of where I was on the scoreboard,” said Miller, who is the first member of Yardley CC to ever win the Open. “I tried to hit greens and make some putts. I tried to play smart.”

  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.

NameClubRd. 1Rd. 2Total
Mark Miller (a)Yardley Country Club7169140
Mark ShefticSunnybrook Golf Club7071141
Christopher GrayHartefeld National7370143
Robert Robertson (a)Sunnybrook Golf Club7273145
Jeffrey L Griest (a)Waynesborough Country Club7570145
Christopher Lange (a)Overbrook Golf Club7372145
Stuart IngrahamOverbrook Golf Club6976145
David McNabbCavaliers Country Club7372145
Kyle Davis (a)Fieldstone Golf Club7373146
Adam CorsonToftrees Resort7373146
Graham DendlerTrenton Country Club7472146
Rich SteinmetzSpring Ford Country Club7176147
Adam Cohan (a)The ACE Club7176147
John Michael Pelet (a)Wyncote Golf Club7572147
Jason HrynkiwPhiladelphia Country Club7671147
Andy Achenbach (a)RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve7870148
Brian KellyBucknell Golf Club7672148
George ForsterRadnor Valley Country Club7474148
James Sullivan, Jr. (a)Huntingdon Valley Country Club7474148
Robert de Rojas (a)RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve7871149
Michael LaddenWhitford Country Club7475149
Rick HughartTavistock Country Club7673149
Brian Gillespie (a)St. Davids Golf Club7673149
Matt Raudenbush (a)Pine Valley Golf Club7772149
Jeffrey HaasLu Lu Country Club7772149
Douglas Zelner (a)Coatesville Country Club7872150
John Pillar, Sr.CC at Woodloch Springs7674150
John DiMarcoLaurel Creek Country Club7872150
Chip Lutz (a)LedgeRock Golf Club7674150
Barry DearSouth Jersey Golf Center7971150
Michael MosesConcord Country Club7377150
Travis DeibertCommonwealth National Golf Club7575150
Gregory FarrowDeerwood Country Club8071151
John ApplegetCape May National7675151
Alan Borowsky (a)White Manor Country Club7477151
Paul ViolaBethlehem Golf Club7675151
Philip Bartholomew (a)Yardley Country Club7378151
Paul OglesbyMerion Golf Club7378151
Steve M. Cutler (a)Hartefeld National7577152
Terry HatchHidden Valley Golf Course7874152
Paul Rogowicz (a)Yardley Country Club7875153
Chris Anderson (a)Wilmington Country Club7875153
Sean Leonard (a)Tavistock Country Club7875153
David QuinnLinks Golf Club7776153
Stephen Arnold (a)Yardley Country Club7677153
Cole Willcox (a)Philadelphia Country Club7578153
Billy McCrossan (a)White Manor Country Club7875153
James Kania, Jr. (a)Overbrook Golf Club7876154
David OlexsonLehigh Country Club8074154
Vince RamagliBurlington Country Club7579154
Chris Gallagher (a)Penn Oaks Golf Club8173154
Michael McDermott (a)Merion Golf Club7877155
Robert Galbreath, Jr. (a)Huntingdon Valley Country Club7779156
Greg Wolfe (a)Cavaliers Country Club7581156
Logan Terry (a)Plymouth Country Club8076156
Terry HertzogBent Creek Country Club8076156
David Liotta (a)Whitemarsh Valley Country Club8077157
Jeff LeFevreLinwood Country Club7780157
Anthony BonargoBucks County Golf Club7879157
Rob ShueyBen’s Power Golf Learning Center7880158
Scott NyeMerion Golf Club7980159
Donald DeAngelisWoods Golf Center8080160
Eric McNameeStonewall7883161
Michael O’Keefe (a)Little Mill Country Club7983162
Jamie Slonis (a)Tavistock Country Club8082162
Andrew Lawson (a)Hershey’s Mill Golf Club8679165
Ken Matt (a)Commonwealth National Golf Club8382165
Dan HaskellMedford Lakes Country Club8482166
Matthew Pesci (a)Yardley Country Club8186167
Mark Czerniakowski (a)Blue Bell Country Club8089169
Patrick Hardin (a)Northampton Country Club8685171
Lance T. Oberparleiter (a)Wedgwood Country Club9082172