Tigers' Miller leads
bob ford/times news filephoto Northwestern's Cole Miller leads the PIAA Class AA State Championships after the first day.
YORK - Northwestern's Cole Miller has been there before.
Just 12 months ago, Miller found himself tied for first with Yough's Alex Patricio after the first round at one over par. He wound up as the silver medalist behind eventual champ Isaiah Logue of Fairfield.
So with almost a perfect morning for Monday's first round of the PIAA Golf Championships at Heritage Hills Golf Club, it was no surprise to see Miller and Logue as the lone golfers to finish under par setting up quite a rematch for Tuesday's final round or as his coach Tim Miller said, "Get ready for a Steel Cage Match."
Miller finished with a 2-under par 69, while Logue came in at one-under 70 finding both of them in the same foursome that teed off this morning at 10:10 in search of AA gold.
"It was a solid first round," said the Tiger, senior, who is headed for Penn State on a golf scholarship next fall. "The wind picked up later in the day so it was nice to have an early tee time.
"I think it was a solid score and put me in contention. That's all I was looking to do on the first day out here."
Not only did it put Miller in contention, it was the best score of the day among all male golfers as no AAA golfer broke par.
Miller started on the front nine and birdied the first two holes to jump out to 2-under par. He bogied the third hole, but calmly came right back and birdied the fourth hole to stay at 2-under.
The two par threes (No. 5 and No. 8) saw Miller come up with bogies, but a birdie on the par four No. 6 salvaged a one-under round on the front nine.
"It was a fun day out on the golf course for me," he said. "I didn't make a par until No. 7 and I three-putted for par. It was birdie, birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie kind of start. I was playing well, I just had a few loose swings here and there, but overall it was a good day."
Miller started the back nine the same as he did the front with birdies on 10 and 11. He actually chipped in out of the greenside rough on the par-5 11th hole to go 3-under. Four straight pars followed until the 357-yard par-four No. 16. Miller took out the driver and from a raised tee box, decided to go for the green. His tee shot went left into some high grass and trees, so he took a drop, lofted it onto the green and two-putted for bogey. Two more pars ended his round.
"I had great starts off of both nines," Miller said. "That really kept the momentum going for me out there and allowed me to shoot a good round.
"On No. 16, we saw the ball cross the margin over the tree. It's a hole I don't like too much from the start so I decided to go for the green and it didn't work out this time. My foot kind of slipped and my ball went left. It was a fine bogey and it didn't give up a stroke on the field because it is a tough hole."
Entering the second round, Miller is very confident considering this is his third time at states and having been at the top of the leaderboard before.
"I like my position for tomorrow (Tuesday) and my game's feeling good."
Northwestern head coach Tim Miller is happy with Cole's position.
"When you get his amount of ability with his amount of experience and he's played on the big stage already, he's tough to beat," he said. "He's just a fine young man and he's everything that's good about golf.
"And the playing conditions were tough out here. The greens were firm and the putting surfaces were fast. He's determined, there is no doubt about it."
As far as other District 11 golfers go, Allentown Central Catholic's Erik Ridley is 12 strokes back of Miller with at 10-over shooting an 81 and Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg's Ryan Krechel shot an 83 and is 12-over. Moravian Academy's Tim Wolak shot an 86 and is 15-over.
In AAA boys, Grant Shumaker of Emmaus fired a round of 79 and is 8-over, seven shots off of the lead. Northampton's Kevin Kunkle had a round of 80 and is 9-over.
In Girls AA, Central Catholic's Franco Hurtado is 15-over with an 86, 12 strokes off the lead. Krista Kissell Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg had a 97 and is 25-over par.
In Girls AAA, Freedom's Helen Hsu is 14-over with an 86 and is 13 strokes back.