Junior Kevin Miller ‘is a winner’


Kent State junior golfer Kevin Miller lines up a putt at a recent match. Photo courtesy of Kent State Sports

Grant Engle


new TWTR.Widget({

version: 2,

type: ‘search’,

search: ‘#KWgolf’,

interval: 6000,

subject: ”,

width: 240,

height: 300,

theme: {

shell: {

background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

color: ‘#66a9c5’


tweets: {

background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

color: ‘#444444’,

links: ‘#1985b5’



features: {

scrollbar: true,

loop: true,

live: true,

hashtags: true,

timestamp: true,

avatars: true,

toptweets: true,

behavior: ‘default’



When asked to describe junior Kevin Miller in 10 words or less, Kent State assistant coach Rob Wakeling only needed three.

“He’s a winner,” Wakeling said.

Miller started golfing when he was 7 years old, and started playing competitively when he was 12. He said that he doesn’t know exactly how many junior tournaments he won before high school, but he accumulated “several” victories.

Miller attended Garaway High School in Sugarcreek, and won the Division III Ohio State Championship as a junior and a senior.

Despite winning back-to-back state titles, Miller said that he wasn’t highly recruited out of high school; and Kent State was “by far the biggest school” to contact him.

“I didn’t even know that KSU was any good at golf until Herb called and I did some research,” Miller said. “I got some letters from some smaller schools, but nothing like Kent.”

Kent State coach Herb Page said he and the coaching staff “did their homework” and discovered Miller at a few local tournaments.

Miller’s continued success

  • Two-time Division III H.S. Ohio State Champion
  • 2009-10 MAC Freshman of the Year
  • Won six of eight tournaments entered as a senior in H.S.
  • One of 11 H.S. golfers in Ohio history to win state tournament two times in a row
  • Four top 15s in five tournaments this year
  • Four top-10 finishes in last 7 tournaments last season (2010-11)
  • Two consecutive top 20 finishes at the NCAA East Regionals
  • Currently 105 in  Golfweek/Sagarin player rankings

  • 2010-11 First Team All-MAC
  • 2010-11 Academic All-MAC
  • 2010-11 KSU Academic Athletic Excellence Award
  • Won 2010 Portage County Amateur by eight strokes

“There are bright lights at those (Division I) big national tournaments, and Kevin didn’t play in a lot of those,” Page said. “But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t just as good as those other guys.”

It might not be surprising to some that a golfer from Sugarcreek was overlooked by other top programs. According to the 2010 Census, Sugarcreek has a population of 2,220.

Miller was named the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year after the 2009-10 season, in which he had a scoring average of 74.7 during 34 rounds of play.

The highlight of Miller’s career took place on the 18th hole of the final round of the Regional Championship, with Kent State one stroke behind the University of Texas.

“He made a double bogey on the 17th hole,” Page recalled. “Let’s just say we had a little chat on the way to the 18th tee.”

Kent State’s last hopes of tying for the regional championship and advancing to the national championship hinged on Miller’s chip. At this point, Miller was the last golfer on the course, and he said the gallery of spectators and other teams was pretty large.

Page and Wakeling said that the team jokes about how often Miller chips in shots during practice, and that his ability to do so has earned him the nickname, “Chip-inski.”

“We pretty much called it before he hit the shot,” Page said. “He was about 15 feet out, he hit about as perfect of a shot as you could hit, and it just trickled over the edge of the cup.”

“The gallery was as loud as any I’ve ever heard at a college event,” Miller said. “I’ve never been a part of anything that big before. It was really cool.”

Alongside his ability to chip-in, Page said Miller’s consistency off the tee is what makes him a good college golfer.

“He’s probably the straightest driver on our golf team,” Page said. “And when you hit it in the fairway, mostly good things are going to happen.”

Wakeling commented on Miller’s ability to rise to the occasion when he faces elite fields in big tournaments.

“We like to joke when we get paired with great teams, we always say, ‘Oh the big teams are here? Miller is going to play well this week.’”

Miller has three top-15 performances this season. One was the Bank of Tennessee at the Ridges, where he finished tied for 10th as the Flashes won the tournament over several nationally ranked opponents.

“This fall has proven that we can compete with anybody,” Miller said. “I think we’re good enough to make a run at the national championship. But we can’t just bank on getting there; we have to take care of business on the course.”

Contacting Grant Engle at [email protected]