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.
|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|
|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|