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October 13 2011

11:59 PM

Miller feeling good after surprising start

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Zack Miller entered the week slumping, but he can turn things around quickly.
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Golfers are often pleased when they play well and post a good number. But how often are they genuinely surprised by it? After missing his last seven cuts (six on the PGA TOUR, one on the Nationwide Tour), 2010 q-school graduate Zack Miller surprised himself by firing a bogey-free 63 in the first round of the McGladrey Classic. He joins Webb Simpson atop the leaderboard after 18 holes. “I don't really know where this came from,” Miller said. “Coming into this event, I had missed my last seven cuts, and I had -- I think I had five birdies and an eagle with no bogeys. I mean, really no expectations. I came in just trying to draw all the positives I can, what's happened the last seven tournaments for me. It's just a great turnout for me.” Miller, battling to retain his TOUR card at No. 146 on the money list, opened with three pars on the back nine before knocking a 156-yard approach from the right rough inside 1 foot on the par-4 13th. That birdie started a 5-under run over four holes that gave Miller a world of confidence. He carried that momentum to the front nine, and knew just where he stood when he caught Simpson at 7 under with a birdie on the par-4 5th. “I had a really nice start to the year where I saw my name on the leaderboard often, and I kind of lost that,” Miller said. “I kind of just wanted to say, hey, look, I'm on the leaderboard, that's a really cool, positive thing. I haven't experienced that in the last two months, and so I was just sort of like, ‘hey, that's really cool, I'm going to keep looking at it because it just made me feel good.’” Miller’s positive outlook helped him maintain that share of the lead down the stretch. He had to scramble and bury a 4-footer for par on the next hole, and his par putts on the last three holes were all longer than 3 feet from the cup, with the longest a 6-footer on No. 8. “I think it's so important to keep making your 3- or 4-footers, getting easy up and downs just to keep momentum going,” Miller said. “Who's to say? If I had missed that putt or didn't get that up and down, momentum would have stopped for me... I didn't really have any tap ins coming down the stretch. Every putt was pretty stressful.” Miller’s 63 was his career best round on the PGA TOUR and just the second sub-70 round he’s posted since July. “It's the first round, but for me, I haven't broken 3 under or 2 under in a while in a round just because I've been struggling,” he said. “It felt like I was coming down the stretch just because I was in I was playing great, and I knew it was something I hadn't done in a while.”
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