By Mike Dougherty
FARMINGDALE – It’s been a while since Mike Miller has posed with a trophy.
The 22-year-old from Brewster is taking full advantage of a sponsor’s exemption, and is very much in play at the Lenox Advisors New York State Open Championship. He took some lumps on the way in Wednesday, but still carded an even-par 71 on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park and is 2-under heading into the final round.
Miller was hoping to pick up some confidence here and is tied for second, two shots off the lead.
“I’ve never had a period like this where I’ve struggled over time,” he said. “There were some bad rounds here and there, but not like this. Really, it’s good to have to work your way out of a stretch like this. It’s so easy to get down on yourself. I’m trying to stay positive when I’m not playing well, and things are starting to turn around.”
Bethpage resident Adam Fuchs is leading after matching the low round of the day with a 67. He’s sitting at 4-under for the championship with a 138 total.
“I wanted to give myself a chance going into the final round, and that’s what I did,” said Miller, who bogeyed three of the last four holes in a two-club wind. “I’ve played here a few times, but I’d love to know the course a little better, especially that last stretch. I was too aggressive on a couple of shots where I shouldn’t have been and it cost me.”
Rob Labritz played in the morning wave and was resting easy after he signed for an even-par 71. The director of golf at GlenArbor finished before the winds really began to pick up and was in a good place at 2-under.
The reigning Met PGA player of the year knows his way around at Bethpage.
“I stayed away from the big mistakes except for a triple at No. 5,” said Labritz, who won this championship in 2011 and 2008. “I just love this place. I feel comfortable here. This is a course where you can lose a tournament in one hole. I’m going to go home and relax, work on my putting, come back and hopefully shoot a round under par. That should get it done.”
A total of 65 players survived the cut. Century assistant Frank Bensel is four shots back, tied for seventh at 142. Saxon Woods head pro Charlie Meola is five shots back, tied for 11th.