By Mike Dougherty
Mike Miller is about to experience the game of golf from the other side of the flat screen.
The 21-year-old Brewster resident is in Scotland preparing to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a European Tour event that features the likes of Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh. It’s pretty good company for a golfer who’s only a month into his professional career.
“These are the guys I’ve been watching constantly on TV, and now I’m on the range hitting balls next to some of them,” Miller said by phone Tuesday before taking a short walk into the center of St. Andrew’s for dinner.
Ben Harrison, whose client list includes Keegan Bradley, got his latest addition into the championship via a sponsor’s exemption, and Miller jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s the greatest thing for me,” Miller said. “You can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water. Plus, my game is suited to links golf. You don’t have to hit the ball perfectly. You just have to hit it solid and putt well. I’ve been doing that for the last two months.”
The venues for the pro-am tournament are top shelf.
Miller has already completed practice rounds at Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, and he will be playing the Old Course at St. Andrew’s on Wednesday.
“I played with Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Pablo Larrazabal at Carnoustie,” he said. “They didn’t have a clue who I was, and by the second hole they were asking how old I was. It was really cool. They were joking, saying that using Titleist golf balls is cheating because I was hitting it by them. It was a lot of fun. They were good players and I learned a lot from them.”
Miller was hoping to have his father, Bobby, on the bag this week, but the head pro at Knollwood Country Club was busy at work. Pat Finn, a gracious friend who’s the general secretary of the Golfing Union of Ireland, agreed to caddie. Golf Channel will be televising the tournament starting at 8:30 a.m. each day.
“It’s pretty awesome, the whole experience,” said Miller, whose amateur partner is slated to be former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. “I can’t wait.”