It’s been 10 years since Simon Miller last played in the Challenge Cup, yet he was eager to send a playful barb regarding the last time the amateurs beat the pros in the annual Sun Country golf event that is played in a format similar to the Ryder Cup.
He was surprised to find out the last time the amateurs won was in 2014.
“All right then,” he said. “These pros better get ready.”
Then the recent Albuquerque City champion followed that up with, “I’m just kidding.”
“I’m just excited,” he said of playing in Sunday’s event at Paradise Hills Golf Club. “I love tournament golf in any capacity. It will be fun to be on a team. You don’t get to do that very often. It will be good to play with a lot of good golfers. Hopefully I can keep up.”
Miller, 26, said he has enjoyed his summer thus far, saying it has been his best since his days of junior golf when he was a standout at Albuquerque Academy. In addition to winning the city title, he also finished as the low amateur at the Navajo Trail Open at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango, Colo., on June 16.
Miller could be considered a dark horse for the amateurs, who trail the pros in the series 34-17-1.
The event begins with team matches in the morning followed by head-to-head individual play in the afternoon. It’s the top 16 PGA Golf professionals in the Sun Country region against its top 16 amateurs.
Sam Choi, the UNM sophomore-to-be who finished tied for fourth at last week’s Pacific Coast Amateur, will have his work cut out for him. He teams with former Lobo Ben Tolsma in the morning to take on David Muttitt (Los Altos) and Steve Manning (Santa Ana). Then he’ll face Muttitt in the afternoon.
“It will be interesting to see that match in the morning,” said Gerome Espinoza, the director of golf at Paradise Hills. “You put Manning and Muttitt together, there are not many mistakes that happen there.”
Espinoza doesn’t believe he has much of a home-course advantage. He just started working at Paradise Hills in February.
“I know the amateurs have some feisty college kids,” Espinoza said. “During the individual challenges they can put up some point on us. I’ll enjoy the event.”
Morning Pairings – Team Matches
Amateurs vs. Professionals
Ben Tolsma-Sam Choi vs. Steve Manning-David Muttitt
Ryo Harada-Davis Chung vs. Devin Miertschin-Justin Aragon
Richard Yai-Noah Hicks vs. Javier Delgadillo-Dustin Blair
Slater Sivage-Roy Choi vs. Kevin Keller-Gerome Espinoza
Aidan Thomas-Josh Fambro vs. Kevin Amhaus-Don Yrene
Simon Miller-Jennifer Delgadillo vs. Pat Murphy-Faylyn Beyale
Greg Condon-Anton Salome vs. Tom Velarde-Bill Harvey
Brian Kern-Crispin Fuentes vs. Carlton Blewett-Ron Allen