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updated: 10/13/2012 10:48 PM

Once again, Stevenson's Miller reigns

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  • Stevenson's Stephanie Miller tees off on the third hole during the recent North Suburban Conference tournament at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest. On Saturday, the senior won her second Class AA state championship in three years.

      Stevenson's Stephanie Miller tees off on the third hole during the recent North Suburban Conference tournament at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest. On Saturday, the senior won her second Class AA state championship in three years.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Under gray skies, Stephanie Miller, Stevenson's perpetual sunshine, prevailed on a dreary day in Decatur.

Which was no small feat for the personable, petite Patriot, regardless of the fact that the Class AA girls golf state tournament was shortened to one day after heavy rains canceled Saturday's second round.

Miller was about to start reading a birdie putt on the fifth hole when the horn sounded, calling all players on the course into the Hickory Point Golf Club clubhouse. About four hours later, the meet was canceled due to inclement weather.

It was determined that Saturday's handful of scores did not count, so Miller was declared the champion by virtue of her 1-under-par 71, which led the field after Friday's first round. Because a shotgun start was used Saturday, all players would not be playing all the same holes unless entire rounds were completed. That eliminated the possibility of partial rounds counting.

"I think we were all kind of ticked off that we didn't get to finish the round because we wanted to go back out and play," Miller said. "We wanted to actually finish the second day of state. Otherwise, it doesn't really feel like state."

There were no hard feelings among the players, Miller said. Her local rival, Buffalo Grove senior Grace Kil, and Neuqua Valley freshman Jessica Yuen tied for second place. They entered Saturday a shot back of the leader after each shot even par Friday.

New Trier won state with its Friday total of 387, while Prospect (392) and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (400) finished second and third.

"There were a ton of congratulations for everybody -- for us top 10 (individuals) and for the schools, too, and the girls that played well but didn't finish in the top 10," Miller said. "Grace and I were talking afterward about how we're going to miss this and that it's our last time (playing against each other in high school)."

It gave the University of Illinois-bound Miller her second state championship in three years and fourth state medal. The senior is the 10th golfer to capture a pair of state titles since the girls' state series started in 1975.

"It's nice to know that I won state twice, but I wish we could have finished the round," Miller said. "I like having the two-day scores."

Both Miller and Kil parred their first four holes Saturday. Yuen bogeyed two of her first three. When the inclement weather hit, it made sure players were done hitting golf balls.

"We'd start to go back out, and then the horn would blow again," Miller said. "We'd be right back in before we even got to the hole."

With an inauspicious weekend weather forecast looming, Miller knew Friday would be a critical day. On what she called a "nice, calm day" in 65-degree weather, she took her golf jacket off and, playing in the final group, responded with a round that included 3 birdies and a double-bogey.

"I knew I had the weather (Saturday) to deal with," Miller said. "I wanted to go out and shoot a low score (Friday) so that if we did play in the bad weather, I'd have a little bit more wiggle room to play with."

Saturday's less-than-ideal playing conditions didn't dampen Miller's spirit. She gets fazed by little on the golf course.

"I love playing in the wind and the rain," Miller said. "It creates a little bit more of a challenge, and I have to focus a little bit more, too, just because there's so many more elements to deal with than just me, the ball and perfect conditions."

The state title caps a spectacular golf year for Miller, whose summer included trying to qualify for the U.S. Open and later earning a tee time in the U.S. Amateur. She dominated during the high school season, winning seven 18-hole tournaments.

"This last year and the three years before it have just been great," said Miller, who finished sixth at state last year and tied for eighth as a freshman. "The summers and high school golf, just all of it, I have enjoyed it so much. Now it's time to go to college and work my way through the next four years."

So how was the Stevenson Patriot planning to celebrate her state title Saturday?

"By taking a nap in the car (driving home)," Miller said with a laugh.

She earned it.

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