June 15, 2011
Congressional suits Mills just fine
By TIM McKAY, QMI Agency
BETHESDA, MD. - Jon Mills has been here before.
Well, not here at Congressional Country Club. But he does have two U.S. Open tournaments under his belt and he's hoping that will act as a calming effect when the 111th edition begins Thursday.
"This is actually my third, so I kind of know what to expect," said Mills, who finished in a tie for 36th in 2008 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, and missed the cut the year before at Oakmont in Pennsylvania. "So I think that obviously helps. I know my first year I played Oakmont and that was different, a different experience, so obviously it's going to help."
But this course, playing at close to 7,500 yards, is not the same as Oakmont. After seeing it for the first time on Tuesday, Mills said it's going to be a test.
His first impression?
"It's tough," the Oshawa native said as he strode to the first tee for his practice round Wednesday. "The rough (is not) quite as long as I would have thought, but still obviously effective. You can get good lies, you can hit shots up towards the green, but you know, with the greens being as firm as they are, it's still gonna be tough to keep them on the green."
A heatwave in the area last week hasn't allowed the USGA to get the graduated rough up to where it wants it to be. But Mills said he's not being fooled into thinking the course may be playing a little easier.
"The back nine is one of the toughest nine holes of golf that I've played in a long time," he said. "And I feel like there's some birdie opportunities on the front, but it could be one of those things where you make your birdies early then try to get through the back nine."
Mills is currently 18th on the Nationwide Tour's money list with US$75,093 in earnings and in a good position to earn his PGA Tour card at the end of the season -- the top 25 on the money list move up. He's been playing well enough that he believes he has got the game for it, though.
"I feel like there's a lot of right-to-left holes where I can play my draw, and I feel like if I have a good driving week, it's going to give me a lot of opportunities to find the green and hit controlled approach shots," said Mills, who's averaging 296 yards off the tee this season.
For Mills, who played on the PGA Tour in 2008, making $489,510 and finishing 137th on the money list, the goal is to make it back to golf at the top level and this week is a reminder of what it's like at the upper echelon.
"I think, for me, it's a week to obviously get a taste of where I want to be," the 33-year-old said. "The experience of playing in front of all these people, and just the whole atmosphere."