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Miller will play in U.S. Open

It’s every golfer’s dream. For Cole Miller, it became a reality.

The former Northwestern Lehigh High School student-athlete and three-time Times News Golfer of the Year, qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday. He earned his spot by taking third place at a 36-hole sectional qualifier at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, MD. He will now get to tee it up with the world’s best at this year’s U.S. Open, which will be held June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York.

Miller, a recent Penn State graduate, shot rounds of 70 and 69 for a 5-under-par 139 against a 53-player field at the qualifier. The top four players qualified for the Open.

“I’m just super excited to get out there,” said Miller during a phone interview Monday night. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the U.S. Open and to just play at a course like Shinnecock Hills with all the rich history that it has. It’s just an amazing opportunity.

“With what will be my second professional start, it makes it even that much more special. It’s coming onto me fast, but it’s all amazing.”

Miller recently made the decision to turn pro after a successful career at Penn State that saw him named first-team Big Ten as a senior after leading the Nittany Lions to an NCAA Regional berth.

Miller earned exempt status into his first four events on the PGA Tour Canada’s 2018 schedule.

Today, Miller will travel to Victoria, British Columbia, for his initial professional outing at the Bayview Place DC Bank Open.

Miller will have a practice session on Wednesday and then get ready for the weekend’s event.

After competing in his first tour in Canada, he will travel back east to Shinnecock Hills.

Miller did miss out on his first Canadian Tour event to take a chance of qualifying for the U.S. Open. But passing on an opportunity to play in the Freedom 55 Financial Open in Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver turned out to be the right decision after Miller made the cut for the Open.

“It worked out perfectly now in hindsight,” said Miller. “It was a bit of a risk skipping that first event because I’m only guaranteed four as of right now.

“But, obviously if I make the cut, things will change. Taking that risk at this point is 100 percent worth it to be able to play in the U.S. Open.”

Miller, who spent most of his high school afternoons pounding balls on the range at Blue Ridge Country Club (now Blue Shamrock) in Palmerton, has played with some of the top golfers in the nation. Last week’s PGA Tour winner is one of them

“About seven years ago, I played with Bryson [DeChambeau] at the Callaway Junior Worlds, and now we both will be competing at the U.S. Open,” Miller said. “So, that’s kind of a cool. We have both obviously had a little growth in our games since then.

“It’s cool to see how his game took off and how golf can do that. You can go from a good college player to a good amateur player to a professional. And, he has won on the PGA Tour twice now.”

As a 22-year-old college grad, Miller wants to see his golf game take off to a whole new level.

He believes his game is up to the challenge that lies ahead, and is excited to see how he fares against the best players in the world.

Miller said he’s not going to be intimidated or change his game when he gets to Long Island next week.

“I have played enough competitive golf to know exactly how to manage my feelings when I’m in a competitive mode,” Miller said. “I’m not going to treat it any differently than in any other event I played in. It’s bigger obviously, and the field is stronger, but I just need to stick to what I have learned through school and what I have learned through playing competitive amateur golf. At the end of the day, golf is still golf.

“That’s kind of the way I will approach it. Obviously, I’m really going to enjoy it since it’s such an amazing experience.”

The Woodmont qualifier was one of 11 contested on Monday throughout the U.S. and Europe to determine the remaining golfers for the 156-player Open field.

Cole Miller watches a drive during his playing days at Northwestern High School. On Monday, Miller qualifed for the U.S. Open. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO