Dennis Miller doesn't believe in Andy Warhol's theory that every person gets 15 minutes of fame in their lifetimes.
Miller thinks it's more like a week of fame after he made a 22-foot putt on the fourth hole of sudden death to earn the final spot in a 36-hole sectional qualifier last Monday for the 112th U.S. Open golf tournament.
Miller, the teaching pro at Youngstown's Mill Creek Golf Course, still hadn't come down from the emotional high two days after the qualifier. Who can blame the 42-year-old Niles McKinley High School graduate? He's living the dream of every person that ever picked up a club but didn't have the skills to compete regularly on the PGA Tour.
"I'm walking on cloud nine right now," said Miller, who has done numerous interviews this week. "I'm extremely tired. I haven't gotten much sleep. My mind is racing. What a joy."
Miller, who was the pro at the Trumbull Country Club for six years, was one of four golfers in the playoff, which was conducted on holes 9, 10, 17 and 18 at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course. All four made par at No. 9, but one player earned a spot on each of the next two holes, making it a battle between two men on the par-4, 477-yard 18th hole that played down wind.
Miller's drive covered 336 yards. His approach landed on the back edge of the green, leaving him with an uphill putt for birdie.
The putt was tracking at the cup, but when Miller walked to the side to see if it had enough speed he noticed a bit of grass between the ball and the cup. Because the ball was rolling uphill, Miller assumed it wouldn't drop.
As Miller turned his back, he was informed that his assumption was wrong by the shouts of approximately 300 fans gathered around the green.
"I looked back and it was in the hole," he said. "The place went nuts. To do it in this fashion. If I had birdied one of the last holes in regulation it would have been a great story. To do it in a playoff with cameras rolling and the ball tipping on the lip; it doesn't get any better."
As a third alternate, Miller wasn't expecting to even play in the qualifier. Once he was given an entry spot he made the most of it on the demanding Scioto and Scarlet courses, finishing even par.
When Miller finished his regulation rounds he was told the cut would likely be at 1-under par. At the time he was upset because he missed three decent birdie putts on the last three holes after he had birded holes five and six.
"That's the worst news I ever heard," Miller thought when told that the cut would probably be 1-under.
Miller's improbable journey to the U.S. Open began when he needed to play five extra holes to advance from a local 18-hole qualifier. Add the four extra holes he needed at the sectional qualifier, and he ended up playing 63 holes instead of 54 to qualify.
Up next is the challenge of tackling the Open, which will be played at The Olympic Club outside of San Francisco. Miller, who's never played the course, would like to write another story for the ages, but he's being realistic about his chances.
"My goal is to enjoy every moment," he said. "I really want to soak everything in. I hope I don't get too amped up and play my game. I know this is a great opportunity for a club pro. No matter what (happens), I'm thrilled that I will be there, and I'll do my best one shot at a time."
Miller recently talked with former Warren resident Bobby Lewis Jr., who played on the PGA Tour from 1971-74 and was a four-time member of the Walker Cup team. Lewis played in three U.S. Opens.
"We talked through how to approach this," Miller said. "I'm going to play practice rounds Monday and Tuesday. I'm really working on my short game. The important thing is getting into the fairway. If I drive the ball well and my short game is anything like it was last Monday, I will do OK."
In essence, Miller is trying to keep it simple. Now isn't the time to make drastic changes to what got him there.
"You have to put the time in and learn the greens and get the speed," he said. "Don't do anything different. Don't change clubs. Don't get a new driver or putter. Concentrate on what you think your strengths are."
Miller has never played in a PGA Tour event. He attended PGA qualifying school in 1996 but didn't fare well. Since then he's been concentrating on tournaments at the club pro level.
Miller has played in three Nationwide tournaments, which is a stepping stone to the PGA Tour. He played in the Ohio Open in 1996.
Miller is now one of 58 players to qualify for the Open from a list of 8,500 entrants at the local level.
Last Monday he probably felt like he had actually won the Open.