Friday, June 15, 2012
By ERIC HAMILTON
I’m not a golfer. I’ve never been a golfer and for whatever reason, I’m not interested in taking up the sport. For me, it’s on the same “do not participate” list as soccer and hockey. I don’t have anything against these sports and I believe that it takes great skill and athleticism to succeed in them.
It also takes persistence and patience – two intangibles that certainly paid off for Dennis Miller. By the time you read this, the club pro turned U.S. Open qualifier, will have played two rounds at one of golf’s greatest tournaments. With any luck, he will have made the cut and be teeing it up for the third round today.
I’ve never met Dennis. But through the various stories in the Vindy and several interviews on national television, I’ve been able to learn more about him. The few things that stood out to me include: he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he’s humbled and appreciative of this opportunity and he’s having the time of his life.
During the one interview I saw on Golf Channel, he was joking about liking ice cream (Handel’s) and pretzels (Auntie Anne’s). He didn’t have his game face on and wasn’t nervous. He sounded like a guy who was having the most fun he’s ever had – on golf’s biggest stage. Clearly, he hasn’t forgotten why he started playing the game — for the fun of it.
As a non-golfer, I’m guessing golf can be fun. It can also be frustrating, competitive, a test of patience and endurance and relaxing. Not many sports are all these things wrapped up into one. Dennis will no doubt experience a roller coaster of emotions this weekend at the U.S. Open – just like he did in those few seconds last week when he went from disappointment to elation when his winning putt fell to earn a spot in the Open.
I can’t imagine the pressure he may feel right now. He’s been an overnight sensation plastered all over the newspapers, TV and the Internet. He’s even gotten well wishes from golf’s greatest players, including Tiger Woods.
He’ll be watched closely once the Open starts. No doubt every drive, bunker shot and putt will have added pressure as he tries to survive among the field of the world’s best golfers.
But judging by the way he’s handled himself with the media, his friends and family and just the average golf fan in the Valley, Dennis will handle the pressure. Win or lose, he’ll still be Dennis.
In one interview, he said that next week, he’ll be back at his day job as the club pro at Mill Creek. That might be true, but the memory of the past two weeks will be his forever.