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Bradenton’s Jordan Miller learning the professional golf ropes

gjefferies@bradenton.com

From junior golf to college and from amateur to the professional ranks, there’s an adjustment period.

Right now, Bradenton’s Jordan Miller is dealing with it.

After choosing to turn professional after his junior year at Florida Gulf Coast University, Miller isn’t racking up prize money on the West Florida Golf Tour in his rookie season.

“I throw one good round together, but throwing two good rounds together and making the cut is kind of getting me right now,” Miller said after missing the cut at this week’s WFGT event at Palm-Aire Country Club in southern Manatee County.

He’s missed the cut in every event he’s entered due to some untimely swings at the wrong time, and consistency.

Each WFGT Summer Series 54-hole event costs $460. That’s $2,760 out-of-pocket in expenses for six straight missed cuts. There is a silver lining: his game is getting close and the WFGT is a commuter tour that saves on costs of driving far or for hotels for the three-day tournaments.

And it gives Miller a chance to get more experience playing professional golf before things click and he takes off.

WFGT president and tour director Christian Bartolacci said Miller does all the things a professional golfer does. He just needs to get comfortable.

“I have no doubt in my mind, 100 percent, that if Jordan stays at it, he’ll make it,” Bartolacci said.

Miller’s swing coach for the last couple years, Andy Scott, said Miller is playing with a little more pressure, too.

“I think, for him, he’s got to take every tournament like it’s a new journey and learn from that journey,” said Scott, who conducts his Andy Scott School of Golf out of three locations in Lee County.

Becoming a pro wasn’t an easy choice, either. Miller starred at Bradenton Christian before heading south to play college golf at FGCU. But at the start of this past spring semester, Miller began talking with his parents and grandparents about turning pro due to his ongoing unhappiness with the structure of the FGCU golf program.

“It didn’t feel like there was that much want to be a good college team,” Miller said. “There were a few guys on the team, I think there were four or five that would show up to practice on a daily basis and work hard and want to get better. ... I didn’t feel like I was getting any better with kind of the way things were going there.”

Miller’s original debut was set for the winter, but the WFGT had an event get rained out. So he began the journey at Sara Bay Country Club in May with the U.S. Open local qualifier. He didn’t secure passage to the sectional stage, and started his WFGT professional career with the 10-week Summer Series in Parrish at River Wilderness Golf and Country Club in mid-June.

It was the first of two times during the last six weeks that Miller’s missed the cut by a single shot. The other time came in Brooksville at World Woods last week when former FGCU teammate Austin Schultz helped Miller fix a leak in his game with his driver. Scott also has worked with Miller on his routine and alignment with the driver to curb any potential faulty swings that can lead to bogies or worse.

Scott said course management is what can separate the PGA Tour pros from the mini-tour guys, and it’s an aspect that Miller is learning as well.

“Just knowing when it’s time to play safe and when it’s time to hit the pedal,” Scott said.

Miller said he’s learned a ton about managing his game in the last six weeks. Now it’s just about getting two complete rounds together.

“I can normally get through the front nine of the second round, but then you start thinking about the cut and this and that, it takes a lot of getting used to,” Miller said.

At Palm-Aire this week, a 79 in the first round took him out of contention. But a 70 in the second round gives him more confidence moving forward that it will turn soon. Just to make the cut, players needed to have a 5-under par total or better.

“It took a lot of thinking and making sure I was doing the right decision,” Miller said. “Even though I haven’t made a cut yet, I’m still not regretting the decision and everything.”

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