Miller wins 109th Met Amateur Championship

LOCUST VALLEY, N.Y. (August 7, 2011) – In a closely fought match between two 19-year-old talents, Mike Miller of Knollwood made a rousing comeback to defeat  Sam Bernstein of Century, 3 & 1, to win the 109th Met Amateur at the Piping Rock Club. Miller has now won two of the three oldest MGA championships—the 93rd Met Junior at Ardsley Country Club in 2010, and now the Met Amateur, the most historic of all MGA events.

The 36-hole match began at 7:30 a.m. amidst spotty rain showers that intensified during the fifth and sixth holes but finally stopped by the seventh hole, when a humid sunshine broke out that remained for the rest of the day and resulted in improved scoring conditions. At the midway break of the match, Bernstein held a 2-up lead on the strength of birdies on the 16th and 18th holes, and Miller knew he had to regroup. He made a call to his dad, Knollwood Country Club head professional Bobby Miller, for some advice.

“He told me to slow things down a bit, and it really helped to hear his encouragement,” said Miller, whose dad joined the sizeable gallery for the afternoon portion of the match

Bernstein, however, Sam Bernstein held the midday lead of the 36-hole match.was a formidable opponent who showed no signs of giving up the lead. In fact, he extended it to 3-up on the 20th hole of the match by curling in an eight-foot birdie putt from below the hole. The players then halved the par-three third hole (21st hole of the match), and Bernstein looked poised to take a 4-up lead when Miller bogeyed the par-four fourth hole. But Bernstein, who had been solid on short putts all week, lipped out a three- footer to make a bogey of his own, settling for a halve and giving Miller a breath of life.

To say he took advantage of it would be an understatement. Miller went into another gear, starting things off by driving the green on the par-four fifth hole and charging in the eagle putt from 15 feet away to shave Bernstein’s lead to 2-up. He then won five out of the next six holes, adding another eagle at the par-five 10th hole (28th hole of the match) by hitting a 17-degree hybrid club to within four feet of the hole. In total, Miller played holes 5 through 13 (23rd through 31st in the match) in an astounding eight under par, going from 3-down to 4-up in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

“I’ve never had a stretch like that in a match, never,” said an ecstatic Miller. “The hole looked like a jar; everything went in.”

Though Bernstein made it interesting at the end, winning the 32nd and 34th holes to cut Miller’s lead to 2-up with two to play, Miller clinched the victory with a gorgeous 7-iron tee shot on the par-three 17th hole at Piping Rock that settled about 14 feet past the hole. After Bernstein’s birdie attempt slid by, Miller rolled in the putt for a birdie to win by a 3 & 1 margin and add his name to a silver trophy that includes many of the best players in amateur golf history, including Miller’s own great-uncle, Willie Turnesa.

“Starting the day out in the rain, I knew this was going to be a grueling match,” said Miller. “To have the outcome go my way, and to see my name go next to all those other great players like Willie Turnesa, and Cameron Wilson, and George Zahringer, and Andrew Svoboda, who’s out on Tour now, means so much.”

All day long, Bernstein and Miller enjoyed a friendly rapport on the course. The two competitors have known each other for many years through junior tournaments and local events, and Bernstein showed himself a lot in defeat.

“Obviously you want to win, but I said at the beginning of the day that I just wanted to go out there and play well and if he was going to beat me, let him actually beat me rather than me give it to him. And that’s how it worked out,” said Bernstein. “I mean, 8-under through nine holes, it’s tough to even imagine that, so you just have to tip your hat to him. If you have to lose, it’s tough to lose to someone better than Mike.”

It was an outstanding week at Piping Rock, and the 6,846-yard, par-71 course once again proved to be the type of Met Amateur venue on which the best players rise to the top and win. In 2012, the MGA looks forward to bringing the 110th Met Amateur to Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J.

. However, he missed his par attempt while Bernstein curled in a six-foot birdie putt to regain the 2-up lead at the lunch break.

ABOUT THE Metropolitan Amateur

The competition is open to male Amateur members of MGA Member Clubs who have a current USGA Handicap Index of 5.0 or less and to those exempted by the MGA Committee. All entrants are subject to the MGA Rules and Regulations. Format of play: 18 hole sectional qualifying round. Qualifiers play 36 hole on-site qualifying round, determining 16 players for match play.

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