April 12, 2014

Chris Whitfield: Miller finds the win he has wanted

— Former Dalton High School standout Chase Miller has had four strong years at the College of Coastal Georgia, transitioning with the school as it went from a junior college program his freshman year to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics four-year school.

The one thing missing from his résumé? A tournament title.

Miller took care of that piece of the puzzle on last week as the Mariners won the Bash at the Beach tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. Miller shot a 5-under par 139 through the two days of the 36-hole tournament hosted by Embry-Riddle on the Jones Course at LPGA International. Miller beat out teammate Allen Bradford in a playoff for individual honors, and Coastal Georgia shot a school-record 14-under par for the tournament to win by a stroke over Johnson & Wales University.

Miller and Bradford also set new individual school records with their two-day total, beating the previous school record by a stroke. For his efforts, Miller was also named the Southern States Athletic Conference men’s Golfer of the Week.

“I’ve been hitting it pretty well,” Miller said in a story posted on the Coastal Georgia website (www.coastalgeorgiasports.com). “My game just came together. I played smart, but I was also able to play aggressively. I’ve been working on my short irons and wedges, and that was a tournament where that was important.

“Things just came together for me last week, and hopefully I can carry over that same game and those same swing thoughts to next week in Montgomery for the conference tournament.”

The Mariners — ranked No. 4 in the latest National Athletic Intercollegiate Athletics poll — beat out a field that included No. 1-ranked Wayland Baptist (Tex.) and seven other teams ranked in the NAIA Top 25.

The win at the Bash at the Beach was special in another way for the senior as well.

“It was fun to get my first win at my last regular-season tournament,” he said. “Also, my parents were there and it was nice they got to see it. My mother has been battling breast cancer and hasn’t been able to see me play much this year, so it was neat that my parents were there last weekend also.”

Chase is the son of Kim and Clay Miller.

“I’m proud of what Chase has accomplished as a player,” Coastal Georgia coach Mike Cook said. “Chase has been close (to winning) numerous times before, and I just kept telling him his time will come. He just needed to keep playing smart, not force it and let it happen.”

The Mariners will compete at the SSAC Tournament at Lagoon Park Golf Course in Montgomery, Ala. through four rounds, beginning Monday and ending on Thursday.

PREP POSTSEASON: The end of the high school golf season is approaching as regions (and areas for Class A schools) will be holding their tournaments during the next two weeks.

Murray County, North Murray and Coahulla Creek girls are scheduled to kick the postseason play off on Monday. North Murray and Coahulla Creek will play at 9 a.m. at Calhoun’s Elks Golf Club in the Region 5-3A tournament, while Murray County will play at Indian Trace Golf Club in Chatsworth at 8 a.m. in the Region 7-2A tournament.

However, rain is forecast for Monday, so things could change.

Later in the week, Murray County’s boys are scheduled to play at Fields Ferry Golf Club in Calhoun at 9 a.m. in the region tournament. North Murray and Coahulla Creek’s boys will play in the Region 5-3A tournament at Fields Ferry on Thursday.

Dalton, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield will have their Region 7-4A tournaments the following week with the girls tournament on April 21 at Dalton Golf & Country Club and the boys playing on April 22 at Nob North Golf Course.

Christian Heritage’s boys will play in the Area 4-A tournament on April 21 at Cherokee Country Club in Cedartown.

GSGA EVENTS: Several upcoming Georgia State Golf Association events are still open for registration, including the Women’s Match Play Championship (May 29 through June 1), Senior Match Play Championship (May 5-8), Women’s Senior Match Play Championship (May 19-21) and the Georgia Amateur Championship (July 10-13).

This will be the 17th Women’s Match Play Championship, and it will be played at Canongate-on-White Oak in Newnan and is open to female amateur golfers. The field will consist of 48 or 64 players. The format is match play preceded by 18 holes of stroke play qualifying. The Championship flight of 32 players and an additional flight of 16 or 32 players will be based on field size with all competitors playing the same set of tees. The deadline for entry is Wednesday, May 14.

Wednesday is the registration deadline for the Senior Match Play Championship.

For more information on GSGA events, visit www.gsga.org.

GSGA JUNIOR PROGRAM: This year’s GSAG Junior Sectional Program will have 33 statewide one-day events representing seven geographic zones across the state. At the conclusion of the series, the top point-earners in each age group from each section will qualify to participate in the two-day Junior Sectional Challenge Match, July 27-28, at The Landings Club in Savannah.

The Northwest sectional will include events at Fields Ferry (June 2), Canton’s Woodmont Golf and Country Club (June 9), Rome’s Coosa Country Club (June 16) and Lafayette Golf Club (June 23). All players are required to pre-register for events online at www.gsga.org and the fee to register is $20. Pre-registration closes five days prior to each event.

Fairways and Greens is a regular column on the local golf scene by staff writer Chris Whitfield. Send your tournament results, tournament announcements, hole-in-one notes and outright golf lies to chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.