Former Youngstown State men’s golfer Dennis Miller (1989-92) qualified for next week’s U.S. Open on Mon., June 4 at a sectional qualifying tournament in Columbus.
Miller, who is the golf director at Mill Creek Park GC, sank a 20-plus foot putt on the fourth playoff hole and will play in the tournament next week in San Francisco. The 2012 U.S. Open Championship is set for June 14-17 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Miller played the Scioto Country Club course in one-over 71, and the Ohio State Scarlet Course in one-under 70 to finish tied for 14th with three other golfers. The sectional featured 132 golfers vying for 16 spots in next week’s major championship.
Tied with Miller for 14th place following the first 36 holes of play were Morgan Hoffmann, Scott Piercy and Justin Hicks. Of the four, only three would advance to the U.S. Open.
Hoffmann advanced on the second hole of the playoff leaving two spots open for Miller, Piercy and Hicks.
On the 18th hole at the Scioto CC, the three remaining golfers were playing their 40th hole of the day.
Miller was faced with a 20-plus foot putt for birdie, that if made would all but secure him a spot in the Open. The putt was on line, but stopped just at the lip of the cup. As Miller put his head down and turned around, the ball fell into the hole for a birdie. Piercy pared the hole, and Hicks bogeyed to end the drama for the trio.
On the first playoff hole Miller scored a routine par before converting a six-foot par putt on the second to stay alive as Hoffmann advanced.
On the third playoff hole, Miller hit his tee shot in a bunker on the par 3 and faced a 15-footer to save par. He drilled the putt right in the heart of the hole.
He had tried to qualify for the Open on 12 previous attempts, including seven times at sectionals.
He was a third-alternate for the qualifying event, but learned just an hour before a 7:50 a.m. tee time that he would be allowed to play.
At Youngstown State, Miller was a four-year letterwinner for Head Coach Tony Joy. Miller played for the Penguins when YSU was a Division I Independent and for his senior season they were a member of the Mid-Continent Conference.
The PGA described Miller’s qualifying in this way on its web site earlier this week:
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the day came as darkness was falling at Scioto Country Club.
On the fourth playoff hole to decide the last qualifiers, 42-year-old Youngstown, Ohio, teaching pro Dennis Miller’s 20-foot putt from the fringe stopped on the lip of the cup. After the gallery of a few hundred groaned and Miller slowly started to walk to his ball, it fell -- touching off a huge celebration.
Now Miller, a third alternate whose name did not even appear on the tee sheet, will be playing in his first U.S. Open -- and will likely have to get someone to fill in for him back at the course at Mill Creek Metroparks.
“I can’t believe what just happened,” Miller said. “That was pretty incredible.”
Miller turned professional in 1992. He won the 1996 Ohio Open and won the 2000 Northern Ohio PGA Match Play Championship. He has been a member of nine Ohio Cup teams.
Miller holds course records at Mill Creek at 62 strokes on the North Course and 63 strokes on the South Course.
In other YSU golf news, Mark Olbrych (Boardman HS) has qualified for the Ohio Amateur Open to be held July 7-9 at the Brookside Golf and Country Club in Columbus.
Olbrych finished tied for 11th with a 76 at the qualifying event held in Canton at the Brookside Country Club on May 24.
YSU Head Golf Coach Tony Joy announced that Brandon Pluchinsky (North Lima/South Range) has signed with the Penguins.
Pluchinsky was a two-time state qualifier at South Range High School. Pluchinsky carded a two-round score of 169 (86-83) to finished 12th at the 2011 Division II State Golf Championship last October. As a junior, he shot a two-round 162 (80-82) to finish eighth at the Division III State Championships also held at North Star Golf Resort in Sandbury.