Keswick’s Miller wins fourth-straight VSGA Senior Women’s Amateur title

Courtesy Virginia State Golf Association

Photo: Chris Lang | VSGA

HOT SPRINGS — Andrea Miller predicted the day before that Friday’s championship battle with Bev Lane in the 66th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at The Omni Homestead Resort’s Old Course was going to be “a heck of a battle.” She wasn’t wrong.

Miller capped her record fourth straight championship in the event by getting up and down from behind the green on the par-4 17th for birdie, giving her a 2-and-1 victory over Lane in a tightly contested match that featured a little bit of everything.

It had the underdog Lane going 2-up through five holes thanks to an immaculate short game that put extensive pressure on Miller. It had Miller taking the lead for good on the ninth hole with an ace. Then it had Lane staving off elimination on the par-3 16th when she nailed a 12-foot birdie putt from behind the hole.

In the end, Miller was just a little better, and her place in VSGA history is secured.

“It’s a bit overwhelming, it feels incredible,” Miller said. “I really didn’t think it was going to happen, especially when I watched how well Bev was playing all week. This was by far the most difficult. And quite frankly, I played the best golf I’ve ever played here this week. I’m just super proud, and I’ll never forget this day.”

The tightly contested match had a few distinct turning points. On the par-4 6th, Miller hit her drive left into thick rough but managed to reach the green in regulation and two-putt for par. Lane was short of the green in two and was unable to get up-and-down for par, giving Miller her first hole win of the match. Miller won the next hole to tie it, then took the lead with the hole-in-one on 9, Miller’s first in a competitive round.

“I had a feeling before I hit it,” said Miller, who hit a 50-degree wedge from 114 yards. “The wind had set up just right, and right when I hit it, I said, ‘Oh, that’s good.’

Miller admitted she needed to settle herself a little bit after the ace.

“My adrenaline was pumping,” she said. “Fortunately, we had a pretty good wait on the next tee box. But I did dribble it off the tee. The adrenaline was going pretty hard there. I took a lot of deep breaths, tried to walk around a little bit. By the time I got to my second shot on 10, I was over it.”

Miller remained 1-up going to the 12th hole. Both players hit the fairway with their drives, but Miller’s approach screamed left, over the cart path and into tall grass, where she was unable to find it. Under the penalty of stroke-and-distance, she hit her fourth shot onto the green but missed the par putt, settling for bogey six.

Lane was just short of the green on her approach, but her chip went long and she was unable to two-putt for par and take advantage of Miller’s miscue. Miller remained 1-up heading to 13.

“I underestimated the lie,” Lane said. “It was thinner than I thought, even though it was in the first cut.”

“Did I feel like a got away with it a little bit? Yes, with the bogey,” Miller said.

After Miller made birdie to win 13, Lane countered with a birdie on 14. Miller answered with another on 15, and Lane with another on 16. (She noted that she had not hit that green at any point in the week prior to Friday). Miller headed to the short par-4 17th with a 1-up edge.

“I never felt out of it,” Lane said.

Lane’s drive was down the middle, and Miller waited for the green to clear before hitting her drive. She not only hit the green on the downhill hill, she went through the green, with the ball settling in a rough patch a couple of feet from the edge of the fringe. She asked for relief due to patchy ground with holes where a tree had recently been removed and received it. Miller then hit a near-perfect chip that almost went in the hole. Lane conceded the tap-in birdie and just missed her attempt to tie the hole and extend the match.

“I am honored and privileged to be here, and I love playing in VSGA events,” Lane said. “The Homestead has really upped their game with the range and the course. Those greens were incredible. I really, really enjoyed playing this week with these incredibly great course conditions.”