Observer-Reporter Athlete of the Week: Owen Miller, Burgettstown
Name: Owen Miller
Miller’s week: Miller shot a 4-under par 31 and a 2-under 33 during a pair of match wins Monday and Wednesday for Burgettstown, which is off to a 4-0 start in Section 4-AA, 4-0 overall.
The Blue Devils’ captain also shot a 4-under 67 and made a 20-foot birdie putt on the first and only playoff hole – No. 10 – to take home medalist honors over Sewickley Academy’s Keenan Hickton at the Ponderosa Shootout last Thursday at Ponderosa Golf Course.
“He’s been working real hard,” Burgettstown golf coach Jon Vallina said of Miller. “He didn’t play well in the tournaments the week before, but he went out and worked in between. He came to play the day he had the 31.”
Consistently consistent: Every Burgettstown player must keep a book of his own course stats, and Miller said he hit seven or eight greens during those match wins over Bishop Canevin and McGuffey.
There wasn’t anything overly fancy, but Miller didn’t put himself in a heap of trouble.
“I was just really consistent, and a few times I hit a shot close; if I hit a shot close, I would usually make the putt,” Miller said. “I wasn’t making any crazy putts. I just did what I had to do to get it into the fairway, get it on the green and two-putt or one-putt.”
The drives were the biggest part, Miller said.
“To be completely honest with you, I was hitting my drives down the fairway,” Miller said. “It’s not like my putting was great, I just hit so many greens.
Keep playing: Miller works at Miller Golf Center a few minutes away from Ponderosa Golf Course and had to work the night he shot a 31.
“After I shot 31 (on the front nine) Monday, I was thinking, I would really like to go play, but I have to work the driving range,” Miller said. “I told them, ‘My shift starts in a half-hour, I better get to work.’ I wanted to keep playing, but I couldn’t.”
Vallina followed Miller on the course that day and thought he would’ve had a chance at setting the course record, not just the Blue Devils’ match record.
“He missed a couple of putts,” Vallina said. “He could have gone lower.”
Marked improvement: Miller finished eighth in the WPIAL and ninth in the state last year, but he spent the offseason working on his short game.
“He’s probably at the top of his game right now,” Vallina said of Miller. “He’s putting a lot better in the past year. That’s what I said at the end of last year. I thought he could have won the state tournament had he putted well. His short game is a lot better this year, and I think that could make a difference.”
– Compiled by Jason Mackey