Mike Miller - It's All In The Wrists
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Many experts will talk about how important the mind is in the game of golf. Some might say that the stance is key to a good golf swing. Mike Miller, however, will claim that not only are the mind and stance important, but wrists are too. The wrists are key in hitting the golf ball, and unfortunately, that was something Miller didn't do a lot of last season.
After the season-opening Badger Invitational last year, Miller discovered that he had suffered a dislocated tendon in his wrist and would have to undergo surgery. Imagine, you just led the team in scoring at the first tournament (71-74-74--221, T25th) and now you're going to be forced to quit the fall season. The game you love dearly has now been taken away from you. You can not even "half-swing." You are miserable.
The Farragut, Tenn. senior underwent successful wrist surgery on Oct. 10 of last year and was unable to hit a golf ball until the first of the year. Miller did compete in three events in the spring, but was not at his 100 percent potential. His game had taken an obvious toll on him physically and mentally. In fact, soreness and swelling return to Miller's wrist late in the season, and forced him to the sidelines once again.
Whether it was determination or just plain stubbornness, Miller refused to let his wrist get in the way of him fulfilling his collegiate career this year.
Miller knew that nothing was going to hold him back for his senior year. He has proven that this past summer with his play, which has impress Indiana coach Mike Mayer.
"Mike had a good summer playing in numerous tournaments," Mayer said. "He qualified for the USGA Public Links Championship and then made the cut, shooting an impressive 69 in tough conditions. If Mike is healthy this year, he will battle for a spot in the lineup."
Healthy he is, and Miller is among the five golfers going to the Badger Invitational this weekend to open up the season for the Hoosiers. Finally having the chance to get on the links, Miller is excited and confident about the upcoming weekend.
"I really expect to play well this weekend, mainly because I'm so comfortable with this golf course," said Miller. "I was pleased with how I played over the summer and that did nothing but build my confidence. Our whole team is confident about our abilities as well, which we haven't had in the past. I think we can compete with the top-teams this weekend as well."
Throughout the past year, Miller has shown there is no quit in that good `ol Tennessee body of his, and is he ever determined to show that in Wisconsin this weekend.
Gladly Stepping Aside
Sometimes in life, your biggest break comes at another's expense. For Rob Ockenfuss, that was the case for the sophomore last season.
After Mike Miller's injury, Ockenfuss took the spot in the lineup for the remainder of the season. Credit the Perkasie, Pa. native for earning it, but even he will tell you that Miller's injury was the "opened-door" to his productive season.
"It seems like last year I got a lot of playing time because of Mike's injury," said the soft-spoken Ockenfuss. "I was able to gain experience that I may not have gotten if it wasn't for Mike's surgery."
And if the sophomore seems to be grateful of Miller's setback, he is not. He especially doesn't have any problem with Miller traveling to Wisconsin this week, while he stays home. Ockenfuss is clearly showing his maturity and willingness to help the team, even at his young age of 19.
"The five guys going this weekend are the five guys that clearly deserve to go," Ockenfuss said. "Mike led the team last year at this event and he's a senior. We have senior leadership this year, which is huge for us. We all have better attitudes coming into this season because everyone is confident in our abilities."
Confidence will play a big role for the 2003 squad, which nearly came out of nowhere last year to win the Big Ten Championship. The Hoosiers have all their starters returning and with the addition of Miller to the lineup, Indiana qualifying for upcoming tournaments should be intense and competitive.
"These seniors want to finish off their careers on a high note, and I have no doubt that they will do their job," said Ockenfuss. "We have all the confidence in our seniors this year. They are really key to our team's success. But if you look down our roster, top to bottom, we are a good team with talent all around. We could very well be the team to beat this year in the Big Ten, and that's exciting."
And as far as stepping aside this weekend and staying home, Ockenfuss puts it in a tone that shows this team is on the same page.
"There's no way my game is ready for tournament play right now. I'm going to be here this weekend practicing and playing, and rooting like heck for our guys in Wisconsin."
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