Miller takes Greater Elkhart title on last hole

81st annual event comes down to 53rd and final hole.

Posted on June 24, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Kyle Miller now has a Greater Elkhart Men’s Golf Championship to go with his two Goshen city titles.

But the latest triumph for the former University of Indianapolis golfer was anything but easy.

After 53 holes, the winner of the 81st annual Greater Elkhart came down to the par-4 No. 18 at Bent Oak Golf Club.

Miller led Brady Klotz and the rest of the Championship Flight field by one stroke — 140-141 — after Saturday’s second round.

He was up on Klotz by two after the first nine holes of the third round and by three with three holes to play.

Then Klotz, a former U of I teammate of Miller and current Bethel College senior, shot birdie-3 on No. 17 to pull even.

A little knowledge went a long way for Miller.

“(The 18th) hole is really tight,” said Miller, who shot a 68 early Saturday at Christiana Creek Country Club then came to Bent Oak for a quick cart practice round. He teed off with a 5-iron on No. 18 and found it was too much club.

On Sunday, Miller used a 6-iron on No. 18 and went on the shoot par. Klotz teed off with a 2-iron and wound up with a 5 on the hole and runner-up in the tournament.

Miller wound up at 72-68-73—213 (3-under-par). Klotz finished at 71-70-73—214. Gavin Wilkinson wound up third at 74-70-73—217.

“(Bent Oak) is a course you can score well on,” said Miller. “I had a lot of putts of 10 or 12 feet. I didn’t drop any of them.”

Miller, 24, enjoyed family support. His father, Dennis Miller, was his caddy for the final round. His 93-year-old grandfather, Vernon Riegsecker, was also present to see the moment.

Miller plans to play in the Goshen city tournament, which is tentatively the last weekend of July.

Klotz, the only player to shoot below par in each of the event’s first rounds (Friday at Meadow Valley Golf Club in Middlebury and Saturday at Christiana Creek), scrambled on Sunday.

“I was driving it all over the planet,” said Klotz. “But I was getting it in the hole for pars. I missed a 4-footer on (No.) 13. I was pretty solid tee to green, I just couldn’t get those putts to fall.”

Having played against each other back in high school (Miller at Northridge and Klotz at NorthWood), together briefly as college teammates and together all three rounds this weekend, the two players know each other well. “I thought I would have to shoot 68 the way Kyle was playing,” said Klotz, who will now turn his attention to qualifiers for the U.S. Amateur and John Deere Classic. “One-under-par would have done it.”

Klotz’s caddy on Friday and Sunday was Logan Kauffman. Joe French did the honors Saturday.

Other flight winners in the Elkhart Golf Association-run tournament were Mark Landis (First), Phillip Ummel (Second), Rocco Lisa (Third), Karl Miller (Fourth), Nathan Bellamy (Fifth) and Mike Lapp (Sixth).

Bellamy is a Memorial High School player. The field was full of players still in or recently graduated from high school. Memorial players Frank Iavagnilio (First) and Mitchel Wilson (Fourth) were second in their flights.

The John Cawley Memorial Scholarship was given to Concord High School graduate Ryan Bontrager. He plans to major in mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

There were no sub-par rounds Sunday. Ummel and Billy Bridwell both shot even-par 72. Zac Henderson shot a 32 on the front nine and wound up with a 74.

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