Stevenson grad Stephanie Miller has continued winning ways at Illinois

SHARE Stevenson grad Stephanie Miller has continued winning ways at Illinois

For the third consecutive October, Stephanie Miller won a golf tournament.

During her junior and senior years at Stevenson, Miller was the individual champion at the Class 2A state tournament each October. Last October, she became the first University of Illinois freshman to win a tournament outright in more than 20 years.

And she didn’t just grind out a win. She was the medalist at Iowa’s Diane Thomason Invitational by 10 strokes. She finished with a score of 3-under par 213 for 54 holes.

“I was hitting it pretty close and I felt like I had a chance to make every putt,” said Miller, who said she was especially proud to have closed out the tournament with a birdie on her final hole.

Miller placed in the top 15 in six tournaments and became the first Illini golfer to qualify for the NCAA regional tournament, where she finished in a tie for 51st.

“Stephanie came in very determined,” senior Ember Schuldt said. “She provided a spark as a freshman. She played so well that it motivated everyone to up their game to match hers.”

The 5-foot-2 Miller is sneaky long off the tee, but the key to her play remains a short game that rarely lets her down. Her ability to get the ball up and down from anywhere makes her good rounds even better and prevents her from shooting high scores when she’s struggling.

“I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of the game,” she said. “I’ve practiced in all types of situations to figure out how to hit certain shots because in golf you don’t always get the perfect roll or lie.”

Nikki Marquardt, who just graduated from Stevenson and will play for Tulsa, always has marveled at Miller’s short game.

“It’s one of the best that I’ve ever seen,” Marquardt said. “After playing with her, she inspired me to really hone in on my own short game.”

By the end of the college season, Miller found her swing had flattened out and she was in a “funky position at the top.” As a result, she was losing shots to the left and not hitting her usual number of fairways and greens.

This summer, she dialed back on her tournament schedule to practice at Pine Meadow Golf Club under the direction of her swing coach Jon Reese. The only tournament she played was the Illinois Women’s Open, where she finished in a tie for 27th.

“It took me about a month to fix it and really ingrain it into the swing,” she said.

And for those wondering whether Miller has retained her fondness for painting her teammates’ fingernails in college the way she did in high school, the answer is a resounding yes.

“We would have nail parties with her,” Schuldt said. “She was very creative and there was always a lot of orange and blue.”

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