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Simon Miller wins Albuquerque City Golf Championship

Simon Miller tees off during the the Albuquerque Men’s City Golf Championship at Los Altos Golf Course on Sunday. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Recent Albuquerque City Golf Championship events have been dominated by local college golfers.

Sunday afternoon at Los Altos Golf Course, Simon Miller scored one for the “old guys.”

Miller, 26, put together a nearly flawless final round shooting a 5-under-par 67 to win the 78th annual Albuquerque City Championship.

Miller’s 13-under-par aggregate left him four shots clear of runner-up Alejandro Armijo, the 19-year-old Cleveland High school grad, and seven ahead of Hope Christian Academy alumnus Slater Sivage.

“This was one for the every-day working guy, I guess,” said Miller, who works as a budget and policy analyst for the state budget division in Santa Fe during the week.

The self-described “weekend warrior” finished as the low amateur and won the championship flight at the Navajo Trails Open in Durango, Colo. three weeks ago, but followed that up two weeks ago with a 22-over-par, three-day total at the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur — 24 shots off the winning score.

With such a disparity in results from week to week, Miller wasn’t sure what to expect this weekend.

“Obviously, it was a very different style of golf,” Miller said of the NMWT Amateur, which was hosted by Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club. “That course favors straight hitters that are really precise. That’s not my game — I want it to be my game, but it’s not. Out here, on the city courses, you can get away with a few.”

Miller pointed to his drive at the par-5 14th hole as a perfect example of “getting away” with one.

The left-hander pulled his tee shot well right of the fairway onto a large swath of dirt and desert scrub.

He clipped a tree branch on his second shot, but the ball ended up nearly pin high on an uphill slope of rough about 15 yards from the pin.

Hoping to pitch it close to set up a birdie try, Miller executed a perfect flop shot that landed on the fringe, and trickled down into the hole for an unexpected eagle.

The unlikely chip-in stretched Miller’s lead over Armijo from two to four, and was basically the difference-maker.

“The last couple of days, I’ve tried to keep my emotions in check and not think ahead,” Miller said. “But I really wanted to win this tournament … when I made that chip, I almost surprised myself at how much emotion I had. I was so happy, and I hit my caddy with a high-five. I hit him so hard, I kind of hurt his hand a little bit.”

Miller, who went nearly two full rounds without a bogey, three-putted the 17th for his lone bogey of the day, but bounced back on 18 ramming in a 30-footer for birdie to polish off a 5-under-par 67.

“When I got to the green on 18, I told my caddy I wasn’t leaving it short because I was leaving it short all day,” Miller said. “I gave it a little extra, and happened to make it.”

Armijo, who played one year at Oregon Tech but is transferring to Oklahoma Christian, made his first cut in three city championship entries. He led Miller by one after the first round, and was within one shot of Miller entering the final 18 holes.

While he had plenty of opportunities over his 18 holes, the putts did not drop with the same frequency as his opening round.

“My putting felt good the whole tournament,” Armijo said, who closed with a 2-under-par 70. “Everything was on line and had a chance to go in. Sometimes they fall, and sometimes they don’t. But I have to hand it to Simon; he played really well today.”

Sivage shot a final-round 66 — the low round of the day — and was 9-under-par over the final 36 holes.

He moved to within four shots of the lead after 14 holes before Miller’s chip-in eagle pushed the margin back to six.

“I took myself out of contention on the first day,” Sivage said, who is a sophomore-to-be on the University of New Mexico men’s team. “(After that), I was just going out to have fun and try to go as low as I could.”

Final scoring is available online at gamgc.golfgenius.com.

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