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Miller hopes to repeat in men’s city tournament

Albuquerque’s Simon Miller hopes to repeat as champion at this week’s city men’s championship, but he’ll have to adjust to playing with a mask. (Greg Sorber/Journal File)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Simon Miller said he enjoys playing in the Albuquerque City Men’s Championship, but he’s concerned about finding the right mask to compete in the unprecedented 79th edition that starts Friday at Ladera Golf Course.

“I gotta get this mask situation figured out before Friday,” said Miller, 27, the defending champion. “I wear glasses when I play. The mask fogs up the glasses, so I’ve been experimenting with different ones. Hopefully I can see out there.”

Miller, who works for the state budget division, is also hoping to repeat in the three-day, 54-hole event that will be played at Arroyo del Oso on Saturday and concludes at Los Altos on Sunday. No spectators will be allowed because of public health concerns created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Miller knows repeating will be a big challenge. He plays as much as he can, usually at The Canyon Club, but he hasn’t played in as many tournaments this summer because of the pandemic. The last tournament he played in was the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur that concluded June 14. He finished tied for 15th after shooting 13-over in the three-day tournament.

“I like the city tournament because it’s all the courses that I grew up playing,” Miller said. “It’s fun to get back out there. Usually a lot of birdie opportunities compared to some of the other tournaments, but I don’t want to speak too soon because we all know how golf goes. It can change quickly. I just enjoy it. Usually a lot of my friends play in this tournament. People I grew up with. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Albuquerque City Championship was originally scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend, as it usually is, but it was postponed to this week. Event organizers were hoping the tournament would draw more participants, who have been golfing and have been accustomed to following all the guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. The tee times will be spread apart to allow for proper social distancing and the golfers are required to wear masks.

As of Wednesday, 117 players had signed up to play in the tournament with registration open through Wednesday, tournament director David Muttitt said on local radio. There are 22 players in the championship flight, including University of New Mexico junior golfer Slater Sivage. He finished third last year.

His teammate, Ross Sinclair, is in the tournament, as is New Mexico State’s Aidan Thomas, a former St. Pius standout who won the high school Class 5A state title in 2018.

“Sounds like there will be some good players, so I will definitely have to shoot something around what I shot last year or maybe even lower,” said Miller, who shot 13-under 203 to win the tournament last year. “We’ll see what happens. Golf is an up-and-down game. You never know which days you have it and which days you don’t. Last year I was just hot at the right time. Hopefully that happens again.”

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