Athlete of the Week: Burgettstowns Owen Miller
Name: Owen MillerSchool: Burgettstown High School
Class: JuniorSport: GolfMiller’s week: Miller finished tied for first at the Section 4-AA individual tournament, joining McGuffey’s Jesse Vensel at 3-over-par 75.
He also shot 34 and 36 during the Saturday-to-Friday eligibility period to lead the Blue Devils (9-0, 12-1) to a pair of Section 4-AA wins over Bentworth (187-217) and Chartiers-Houston (203-238).
“Owen has done a great job for us all year,” said Burgettstown coach Jon Vallina. “But he did have an exceptional week.”
Consistent scores, leadership: The 34 and 36 – at Chippewa and Ponderosa – are the type of scores that Burgettstown has come to expect out of Miller.
His scoring average is 35.9 strokes per nine holes overall, 34.2 during section play.
“We pretty much expect him to come in under par anymore, no matter where we go,” Vallina said. “That’s the kind of game he plays.”
Miller gets a bunch of distance off the tee with his 3-wood and relies on a steady short game to keep his scores down.
“Once I get things going, I’m usually on; I don’t screw up too bad,” Miller joked. “Whenever I have bogeys and whenever I have pars, I usually stay at that pace. I usually don’t make too many birdies those days. But whenever I make birdies, I usually make a pretty good bit of them.”
Miller has been at par or better every match this season – except for a win over Jefferson-Morgan Aug. 29, when his score was so ugly that it was thrown out.
“I feel like I’m the leader of our team,” Miller said, “and I want to show everybody that I can do that: shoot at or under par.”
‘A fun day’: Miller has known Vensel for about seven years through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Junior Golf Tour. So when the two competed against each other at Lone Pine, it felt more like a practice round.
“Jesse and I had fun,” said Miller, who went out in 40, cleaned up some things and came back in 35. “I struggled on the front nine, but that was a fun day at Lone Pine. Played my normal game, shot my average of 75.”
Miller and Vensel also played together during Monday’s Class AA individual championships at Youghiogheny Country Club – Vensel tied for second, Miller was eighth – with Vensel’s dad, Brian, and Miller’s mom, Becky, following the group.
Afterward, Brian Vensel asked Vallina if they could tag along for a post-tournament dinner.
“My son feels like he’s a part of your team,” Brian Vensel said.
Plenty of support: It was no coincidence that Becky Miller walked the course at Youghiogheny, a scorecard and pencil in her hand, a bag of pumpkin/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies (yes, all three together) stashed in her purse, a Burgettstown golf pullover for the coldest day of the fall so far.
Miller’s older brother, Andy, is an 18-year-old freshman on the men’s golf team at Washington & Jefferson College, and his younger brother, Clark, 12, is already following the same golf trajectory as his two older brothers.
When Miller was selected this summer for the Junior PGA Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., the whole clan came along.
“My family is real into it,” Miller said. “Whenever I went to the Junior PGA Championship, my whole family came along. They watched me all three days I played. They were there every hole. All the bigger tournaments, my mom usually comes to watch me. My family is real interested in it.
“My brother is in college now, and we keep in touch a lot to see how he’s playing, see how I’m playing. And my little brother is always asking me how I’m doing.”
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