The University of Miami has a new star on the rise, and she is already making a possible case to join the LPGA.
Sophomore golfer Tina Miller won the UCF Invitational in Orlando last weekend after shooting a tournament record 69 in the second round, following an opening day 76. The victory marked the first collegiate win for Miller.
“I was pretty confident going into the final round,” Miller said. “The putts dropped when they needed to and when they didn’t; it didn’t get under my skin.”
Success is something that is definitely not new to Miller. While attending Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School in Miami, she played for the men’s team, and was ranked fifth in Miami-Dade County Boys Golf in 2000-01. In 2001, Miller battled from nine strokes down on the final day to become the Florida State Girls Champion.
The Graphic Design major and four time All-Dade selection was heavily recruited by the Universities of Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia. Even though she visited many schools, the Florida native knew that UM was the right place for her.
“I knew right there on my visit, that this is where I wanted to be,” Miller said.
Miller’s success can be attributed to whom the sophomore looks to as role models. Among her favorite golfers are Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam.
“I hope that one day I can give Annika a challenge and get all this hard work and dedication to pay off,” Miller said.
A typical workout for the UCF Invitational Champion and her teammates is warming-up for a half hour and then either playing a round of nine or 18 holes and then working on her short game. On the weekends when they don’t have a tournament, the ‘Canes play at Don Shula’s Golf course in Miami Lakes.
Like many other athletes, Miller has a few superstitions. Among them has been Miller’s tendency to play exclusively with orange ball markers.
“I just started using orange when I got here and I putted well, so I kept doing it,” Miller said.
The ‘Canes play next at the Lady Gator Invitational in Gainesville, beginning Sunday. With the way that she is playing, it doesn’t seem like Tina Miller will be changing her beloved orange ball markers in the near future.
“People are going to underestimate us, but hopefully after that last day, we’ll be the ones with the smiles on our faces,” Miller said.
Ben Wolf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org