Mike Miles says he feels much more relaxed heading into the PGA Championship than he did the U.S. Open because he's had more time to prepare. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
PGA Championship is summer's second major accomplishment for Miles
If anyone can deal with the pressure of a major, it is PGA Club Professional Mike Miles of Virginia. First, he qualified his way into the U.S. Open, then followed up by, you guessed it, qualifying his way to Hazeltine.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
CHASKA, Minn. -- Mike Miles, a PGA Assistant Professional from Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif., is making his PGA Championship debut this week at Hazeltine.
Funny thing is, this won’t be Miles’s first start in a major championship in 2009.
Prior to this week, the 47-year-old who spent time on the PGA Tour in the late 1980s, made it through local and sectional qualifying to earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
Miles missed the cut that week with rounds of 78-69, but left extremely encouraged by that second-round score, which still has him riding high two months later at Hazeltine.
“It’s great. I want to bring the Open to this tournament and have a good outing,” said Miles, who also played in the 1987 U.S. Open. “I’m not here for a good experience. I shot a really good second round in the Open and it kind of proved to me that I could play on this level -- at least in a one-day format. I’d like to do it in four and that’s why I’m here.”
So how did Miles make his way to Hazeltine? He was one of the 20 PGA Professionals to qualify for the PGA Championship based on his performance in the PGA Professional National Championship held at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., earlier this summer.
Miles was relatively quiet in New Mexico before busting out with an impressive 5-under 66 on the final day in a round that included four consecutive birdies that helped him to a tie for 16th.
Even that wasn’t enough, though. At 2-under 282 for the week, Miles was part of an eight-man playoff for five available spots at Hazeltine. He advanced after two holes in the playoff.
“The experience in the Open helped a lot when I got to New Mexico, especially because I was able to have a last round that got me into this tournament,” Miles said. “I practiced and was ready to play there and for some reason, the first three rounds I really struggled. I don’t know why.
“Maybe I was trying too hard,” he added. “But I was close and I shot a great last round. I should have made it easier on myself in New Mexico, but I guess it doesn’t matter now because I was one of the 20 who made it here.”
Many of the 20 PGA Professionals in the field this week will understandably have the butterflies when they get to the first tee. Miles, however, doesn’t think he’ll be too nervous.
“The anticipation to the PGA Championship has been much more relaxed than it was for the U.S. Open,” he said. “I’ve had a lot more time to prepare and I hadn’t really thought about it much until I got here. I’m really busy teaching golf a lot of hours and at the club. I played one tournament recently, but other than that I didn’t plan on doing a whole lot of work on my own game until I got here. I didn’t want to think about it and ruminate over it and all that stuff.”
Despite the fact that Miles is here as a club professional among the world’s best players -- the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington to name a few -- he’s not content with just being here.
“It’s hard for me,” he admitted. “I have to be in the mindset of all these guys out here. It’s hard to do that on a once-a-year, twice-a-year, big tournament basis. It takes a lot more effort to get into a relaxed, confident mindset if you’re not doing this every week. But I think I should do well here. This isn’t just to bring my family to come out here to watch me play two rounds, buy some nice souvenirs and go home. I’m out here for something more than that.”