Successful summer has Miller on track
TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Northwestern Lehigh's Cole Miller has had an impressive summer heading into his senior year.
It might be hard to match last summer's successes, but Cole Miller seems on track to do just that this summer.
The rising junior at Northwestern High School is already one of the Lehigh Valley's best golfers. He's been among the top of the junior ranks for several years. Last summer he won a Callaway Junior Tournament that earned him a spot in a junior world championship event at Torrey Pines in California. He also won the Blue Ridge Country Club Championship last year and went on to earn Colonial League and District 11 titles in the fall scholastic season.
While it might be hard to top a trip to Torrey Pines, Miller couldn't ask for much more this season. He leads the Lehigh Valley Player of the Year points race and has won few tournament while placing highly in a few others to earn exemptions into even more events.
"I'm striking the ball well," he said. "My putting has been a little off. But I'm scoring well."
Miller won the Bethlehem Amateur Stroke Play Championship in early July, shooting 73-72 (1-over par) to beat Chris Gill by one stroke.
Last week Miller captured the title in the Lehigh Valley Junior Medal Play Championship at Whitetail and Southmoore golf courses. He shot 74-71 to beat Tyler Smith by two strokes.
Some other notable finishes this summer include his tie for third place at the 62nd Pennsylvania Junior Championship July 3 at Hershey Country Club.
Miller carded rounds of 72 and 71. In June he placed fourth at the 22nd Lehigh Valley Medal Play Championship with rounds of 76 and 75 (3-over par). Also in June he shot 77 to tie for seventh place in a Lehigh Valley Open qualifier. He plans to compete in that tournament later this summer.
Back in April Miller placed sixth at the Northeast Pennsylvania Stroke Play Championship at Hideaway Hills. He posted rounds of 75 and 78 for a 9-over par at the difficult mountain course in Kresgeville.
Miller's success doesn't come on talent alone. He puts in a lot of hard work, practicing twice a day on most days.
"I practice a lot more than I play," he said. "I've been focusing on my short game. I've picked up some length since last year."
He consistently drives the ball around 290 yards. In a recent long drive competition he took eighth place at 324 yards. And he did it using his standard driver while most of his competition was using a longer-shafted driver to generate more club head speed.
While he never took a golf lesson until recently, Miller has been working with Olde Homestead pro Tim Miller.
"I wanted to step up my game," Cole Miller said. "He knows my swing, so why not?"
Cole Miller is excited for several upcoming events. He has earned a spot on the Williamson Cup team, which is a Ryder Cup style junior event that will be played August 12-13 at Fieldstone Golf and Country Club in Delaware. The event pits teams of players from various PGA sections against their counterparts from other sections as far as Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Miller will represent the Philadelphia Section.
He will also play in the Eastern Pennsylvania Amateur August 3-4 at Whitetail and Southmoore; the Lehigh Valley Open on July 30-31 at Northampton Country Club; the LV Tournament of Champions in October at Blue Ridge Country Club, his home course; and the LV Amateur September 22-30 at Green Pond.
Miller also looks forward to the scholastic golf season. He wants to defend his titles, but he is also looking forward to team matches as the Tigers could have a competitive squad for the second straight year.
He and teammate Nick Vecellio both qualified for districts last year, the first time in school history that two Tiger boys golfers competed in the district tournament together. With both players returning, Northwestern could be a contender this season.
"The high school season should be fun," Miller said. "Nick is going to be right up there with me. We should have a good year."
With scholastic golf moving to a two-class format, Northwestern golfers will compete in the postseason against players from other Class AA teams. In past years all players competed in one field.
Last fall Miller finished tied for 31st at the PIAA Championship Tournament. Many of the players he finished behind in that event were seniors and have moved on. Many other were from Class AAA schools and won't be in the same field as Miller this fall.
With high school season just around the corner, Miller's successful summer season could once again lead him into another banner fall run.