J.T. Miller couldn’t quite make the cut at U.S. Open qualifiers on Monday, so won’t be moving on this year.
The Vancouver Canucks forward is also one of the best golfers in the NHL and he decided to try his hand at qualifying for the U.S. Open. The qualifiers are open to any golfer with a handicap below 1.4 and Miller claims his handicap heading into the qualifiers was minus-1.2. That means he’s better than a scratch golfer — a golfer who typically makes par on an 18-hole course — and would add 1.2 strokes to his score if he was in match play against another golfer.
If Miller had been able to shoot a one-under on Monday at The Club at Nevillewood in Pennsylvania, he would have had a shot at qualifying for the next round or at least be named as an alternate in case a qualifying golfer couldn’t continue.
Things started well for Miller on the front nine. A birdie on the third hole got him one-under early but a bogey on the par-three fifth hole brought him back to par. Still, he maintained par through the first nine holes, putting him in a good spot.
Unfortunately, his day took a turn for the worse on the back nine. Miller didn’t fall apart, by any means, with no big blow-ups on any one hole. He even had another birdie on 15, but he bogeyed seven of the last nine holes to finish with a 78 on the day: six over par.
With some golfers still completing their rounds, Miller currently sits tied for 27th among the 78 golfers attempting to qualify at Nevillewood on Monday.
Still, that’s not bad for an athlete whose primary sport isn’t golf, but hockey. Miller has limited time to practice his golf game during the hockey season, so shooting a six over par under tournament pressure is still very impressive. Many of the golfers on the course with him are aspiring professional golfers or already professional golfers.
It’s also a slight improvement on his previous attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.
Last year, Miller competed in the U.S. Open qualifiers at the Butler Country Club in Pennsylvania and finished 40th with a seven-over 77. On that occasion, Miller put himself behind the eight ball early with a triple-bogey on the second hole and a double-bogey on six.
Having a more consistent day without a single double-bogey has to be some consolation to Miller.
Of course, the most important aspect of Miller’s round of golf on Monday was getting a break from hockey and spending some time with his dad, who acted as his caddy for the second year in a row.
“My dad got me into golf when I was a kid, so I know he really enjoys it and it's just a fun day for us,” said Miller to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley. "Honestly, it's just so much different than what I do year-round, to turn the brain off and try to have fun and you're putting everything out for real. I enjoy competing in general, but it's really not as serious. I'm not expecting to move on. It's just a nice day to see what I can do against guys that eat, breathe, and sleep golf. It's a good test for me.”