Miller Repeats as MGA Player of the Year
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (October 31, 2012) - Playing a more rigorous schedule filled with national and international tournaments didn’t stop Mike Miller of Knollwood Country Club from maintaining his stranglehold on Met Area golf. The 20-year-old was recently named the winner of the 2012 Jerry Courville Sr. MGA Player of the Year Award, becoming the first repeat champion since Jerry Courville Jr. won it in 2002 and 2003. He now joins an elite group of players who have won the title twice and will be presented with the award at the 115th MGA Annual Meeting and Dinner on Wednesday, December 5, at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y.
The Jerry Courville Sr. MGA Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the Met Area amateur who compiles the best record in select events during the course of the year, and is based on a system in which players earn points for their finishes in designated local, national and international championships.
Coming off a breakout season in 2011, Miller began his 2012 campaign down in Florida, where he competed among the nation’s best amateurs at the Terra Cotta Invitational in April. His tie for second finish would be a springboard to another exceptional and consistent year. Later that month, he travelled to Europe and tried his hand in links golf for the first time and remarkably finished tied for fourth in two prestigious amateur championships; the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham and St. Annes (where Ernie Els won the 2012 Open Championship) and the Irish Amateur at Royal Dublin Golf Club.
“Mentally, it made me feel that I can play with the best of the best,” he said. “When I got back from Europe, I was on cloud nine. My game took a turn for the best and I was really excited to get back and play in our area.”
He earned his first 50 Polo Golf MGA Player of the Year points in early June at U.S. Open Local Qualifying, where he finished as co-medalist along with 15-year-old Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow. A week later, he finished second in the NYC Amateur after losing in a playoff to fellow 20-year-old Ryan McCormick of Suburban, who would have his own outstanding season.
Miller continued his stellar June run earning 125 points by defeating Young in the WGA Amateur finals and then earning 75 bonus points for finishing second at the Sunnehanna Invitational in Pennsylvania, one of the most acclaimed national tournaments on the summer circuit. Brimming with confidence, he entered the Ike Championship at Atlantic Golf Club as the 32nd ranked amateur and collected a fourth place finish. He followed that up with a tie for fourth in the Westchester Open, propelling him to the top of the Player of the Year point standings.
Next up was his defense of the Met Amateur at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J. He and McCormick would resume their season-long duel, and McCormick would again get the best of Miller, beating him 1 up in an extraordinary semifinal match (the two players combined for one bogey in very quick and windy conditions). McCormick went on to win the championship, adding another trophy to his growing list of summer victories (in addition to his NYC Amateur, he had a record-setting victory in mid June at the NJSGA Amateur at Baltusrol).
Miller’s two largest point totals came in August; at the U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club outside of Denver and at the Met Open at Plainfield Country Club. At the U.S. Amateur, he qualified for match play (for the second time in three years) and won his first round match, earning 175 points. At Plainfield, he collected another 175 points for his 10th place, third low amateur finish. It would be just enough to hold a slight lead over McCormick, who nearly won the championship (finished tied for second and low amateur, earning 313 total points, moving him well up in the standings and within striking distance of Miller).
But Miller would erase any doubts about who the top player in the Met Area was in September, when he captured the individual portion of the USGA Men’s State Team Championship, and a week later when he won the Boff Invitational, pulling away from McCormick by 300 points. McCormick bested his seventh place Honor Roll finish a year ago and finished second with 1,010 points.
“Besides winning the  Player of the Year and the Met Am, winning the USGA State Team is definitely my biggest accomplishment,” he said. “Not only did I win individually, but we won as a team. Playing with Max [Buckley] and Joe [Saladino], they really made me believe I can do it, I give them a lot of credit.”
Miller’s point total of 1,330 is the most since Jerry Courville Jr. finished with 1,367 in 1997 and will enter next year with the potential of becoming the only player in MGA history to win three consecutive Player of the Year titles.
In repeating, Miller beat out of the strongest amateur fields in recent memory. Aside from McCormick, familiar names were also in the mix during the season, including 2012 NJSGA Mid-Am champion Brian Komline of Black Oak who finished third, two-time MGA Player of the Year Joe Saladino who finished fourth, and 2011 Carter Cup winner Cameron Young finished fifth. Rounding out the Honor Roll was Pat Wilson of Panther Valley, Mike Stamberger of Plainfield (who’s appearing on the Honor Roll for the sixth time), 2011 Honor Roll recipient Sam Bernstein of Century, 2007 Carter Cup champion Max Buckley, and 2012 NJSGA Open winner Ben Smith of MGA eClub – N.J.
The award will be presented at the 115th MGA Annual Meeting and Dinner on Wednesday, December 5 at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. For more information on the 2012 MGA Jerry Courville Sr. Player of the Year Award, please contact Greg Midland (email@example.com) or A.J. Voelpel (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the MGA office at (914) 347-4653.
For final Polo Golf MGA Player of the Year Standings: click here
For past winners of the MGA Jerry Courville Sr. Player of the Year Award: click here