Shaler freshman Joey Miller shows poise at section tournament

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Sunday, September 27, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Knowing the target score didn’t rankle Shaler Area freshmen golfer Joey Miller.

Carding a par on the 402-yard 18th hole during the Section 3-AAA tournament Sept. 21 at North Park would allow Miller to finish with an 8-over par 80 and march on to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.

Miller left a birdie try a few feet short but tapped in a short putt to advance to the semifinals, which were set for last Tuesday.

Vincent Barbieri also came close to making the cut for Shaler. He finished with an 83.

Titans coach John Brough was impressed with Miller’s mental make up.

“He has a strong mental game,” Brough said. “He didn’t have the nerves. He knew he had to par the last hole and hit a drive right down the middle.”

Preparing for those moments is something Miller picked up through experience. While playing in regional amateur tournaments, Miller has found himself in tough spots.

“I got that from my tournaments on the Isaly’s Tour,” Miller said. “Some of the tournaments I’ve been in, I had to go into a playoff with other kids.”

Miller, who also plays baseball, spent the past summer balancing both spots. What helped him with golf was working with Ed Vittmeier, who was a Division II All-American at Cal (Pa.) in 1983.

“He’s got me dialed in on hitting greens and hitting my driver better,” Miller said.

The biggest challenge during the section qualifier was his relative unfamiliarity with the course. Miller said he had only played at North Park a few times.

“The pin placements were tough,” Miller said. “I had to aim shorter and read the greens better.”

Learning from these situations will be vital for Miller.

Brough, who said Miller already has a strong short game, expects more improvement as he matures.

“He’ll get bigger and stronger,” Brough said. “Then he’ll hit the ball further. When you have more distance, that means you can use more accurate wedges. Using more wedges means shorter putts and more birdies. I anticipate him being in the top five of the section next year.”

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