Mike Miller lost traction early in the round, but pulled himself together for a late run and finished second in the 59th Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions.
The 19-year-old from Knollwood Country Club was tied for the lead going into Sunday’s final round, but got in trouble four holes in. He sent his approach just off the back of the green into deep rough, pitched within 20 feet and three-putted a slippery green.
Miller closed with an even-par 70 and wound up two strokes behind University of Alabama junior Bobby Wyatt, who had a 9-under 271.
“It was a struggle,” Miller said. “They had rough like I’ve never experienced in the Northeast, four or five inches at least. I really fell out of the pack, but my caddie, he was 13 or 14 and the son of a member, was like ‘C’mon, Mike. What are you doing? Get it together.’ And that gave me a boost.”
Miller started his comeback with birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. He also birdied the last hole to finish in second alone.
The success he’s enjoying this season is feeding a steady climb in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, and the 2013 Walker Cup at National Golf Club is on the radar.
“I just keep putting myself in contention at these big tournaments,” he said. “My ranking is skyrocketing. I was 64th before this week and I want to get inside the top 50 so I’m exempt for the U.S. Amateur. The guys here were really good, some of the best in the country, so it was good to prove to them and myself that I can compete with them on a daily basis.”
Miller, 19, is still planning on PGA Tour qualifying school in the fall.
“The main goal is to make the Walker Cup,” he added. “That would be special, especially with it being in New York. … The only way I’d turn pro is if I made it through Q school, but there are so many good players who never make it through the first stage.”
The 59th Sunnehanna Tournament for Champions
1. Bobby Wyatt (Mobile, Ala.) 65-70-68-68—271
2. Mike Miller (Brewster) 68-69-66-70—273
3. Nicholas Reach (Moscow, Pa.) 67-71-68-68—274
3. Justin Thomas (Goshen, Ken.) 65-69-70-70—274
3. Sebastian Vazquez (Mexico City, Mexico) 67-69-67-71—274
6. Jeffrey Kang (Fullerton, Calif.) 72-67-70-66—275
7. Michael Kim (Del Mar, Calif.) 66-72-71-67—276
8. John Catlin,(Carmichael, Calif.) 68-72-70-68—278
8. Brandon Hagy (West Lake Village, Calif.) 74-65-71-68—278
8. Tyler McCumber (Pointe Vedra, Fla.) 68-73-65-72—278