Tigers' Miller in lead
bob ford/times news filephoto Northwestern's Cole Miller follows through with a drive during this year's District 11 championships. Miller shot a one-over-par 72 on Monday during the opening day of the PIAA State Championships to tie for the lead.
Northwestern's Cole Miller has been on an upward swing over the last few weeks. After winning the Colonial League Golf Tournament at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course, Miller went down to the wire with Wilson's Collin Hagenbuch for the District 11 Class Championship at Shawnee Golf Resort, losing on the fourth hole of a playoff.
Miller finished tied with his teammate, Nick Vecellio, for fourth at last week's Eastern Regional Golf Championships. That finish was good enough for both Miller and Vecellio to qualify for the PIAA Golf Championships at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York, Pennsylvania.
After 18 holes of the two-day, 36-hole tournament, Miller is yet again in the hunt for the title. Miller finished the day with a one over par 72, putting him tied for the lead with Yough High School's Alex Patricio. Miller's success comes as no surprise to Northwestern's coach, Tim Miller.
"I'm very proud of him," coach Miller said. "The course is difficult. He missed a few shots on the back nine that would have put him under par, but I'm very proud of him. He's playing with the best in the state."
Cole's thoughts on the first day mirrored that of his coaches.
"I thought I played pretty well," Miller said. "The greens are tough and I had a few three putts that could have been avoided.
"I changed my game plan for this course and I tried to play smarter."
After a solid first day, Miller's expectations for the second day are high.
"A win would be nice, but I want to play well first and foremost."
Miller's teammate, Nick Vecellio, shot an 83 to finish the day tied with Calvary Christian's Mark Farley for 24th overall.
"Nick was one over through seven holes but had a bad break on a tee shot," coach Miller said. "I thought he was too aggressive to try and catch up after that.
"Nick hasn't competed on this stage before and he doesn't know how his game stacks up," Miller said. I just told him to take it for what it is and learn from it. I'm very proud of how he's played so far."
Coach Miller pointed specifically to Cole's experience and the fact that this is his second consecutive trip to the state tournament as the primary reason for his early success.
"You cannot overlook the experience factor," Miller said. "You can't get it by reading a golf magazine. There's only one way to do it and that's to go out and experience it."
Today's tee times will be based on the inverted order of finish on Monday, meaning Vecellio will be teeing off early and Miller will be starting later in the morning in the final Class AA pairing.
With one day left, Miller is in a perfect position to put that experience to use and make a final push for the title.
"I predicted who's gonna win this tournament before it started and I'm sticking with it," coach Miller said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. It should be an exciting day."