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Brad Miller golfing at Forest Oaks Classic in Greensboro, N.C.
Brad Miller golfing at Forest Oaks Classic in Greensboro, N.C. (Courtesy of eGolf Gateway Tour)

On the heels of his best tournament as a professional golfer, Brad Miller ran into his coach at Gilman, Don Rogers, when the Greyhounds were playing a tournament at Woodholme Country Club.

Perhaps emboldened by his 19-under-par weekend in North Carolina, but more likely drawing from the reserve of belief and competitive fire he hopes will earn him a PGA Tour card one day, Miller quickly showed his old coach that his pursuit of that card was serious.

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"Miller, we're still chasing it, aren't we?" Rogers asked. "He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Oh, yeah.' "

Miller was tied for the lead after the first day of the eGolf Gateway Tour's Forest Oaks Classic in Greensboro, N.C., last weekend, and held sole possession of first after the second and third rounds before losing in a playoff.

His first professional victory eludes him, but as with every other aspect of the chase, the 24-year-old Timonium resident attacks it with both a well of support back home and an understanding that sheer will, along with his undeniable talents, can get him there.

"[My parents] have grown up with golf, too, so they know the whole thing about how most guys don't make it to the [PGA tour] until they're 27, 28, 29, maybe 30," Miller said. "It's not going to happen right away. Sometimes, you wish it would. It might happen next year, it might happen in five years, it might never happen. Life's too short to think when I'm 40 that I never gave it a shot."

"It also helps when you play as well as I did this weekend," he allows.

Brad was the youngest of Jan and Barbie Miller's two children, both accomplished golfers themselves. They both have several Baltimore Country Club championships to their name, and met while working at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Towson — he a teaching pro, and she in the pro shop. When they sent out Brad's birth announcement, they wrote, "Our foursome is finally complete."

Still, golf wasn't his first passion. He played baseball more seriously until he was forced to choose between the two spring sports as a freshman at Gilman. Rogers got a freshman golfer he said was precociously talented.

As a senior, Miller carded a birdie every 3.2 holes in competitive rounds.

"That was certainly a telltale sign that this kid may be different than some of the other kids that have come through my way," Rogers said.

Even then, the determination and competitiveness that it takes to pursue a professional career was evident. He remembers Miller in the senior lounge at Gilman refusing to lose at ping-pong.

"At times when you're 16 and you hate to lose, that doesn't always work for you," Rogers said. "But he made it work for him."

After a four-year career at Gilman that earned him two Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors, Miller went to the University of Richmond, where he won the Landry Invitational with a three-round score of 6-under in his first collegiate tournament as a freshman. His sophomore year was a struggle.

"I literally couldn't hit the green from 10 feet away," Miller said. "It was brutal."

He ended up playing in just one tournament that year, but the competitive drive that Richmond coach Adam Decker said has fueled him to this professional career never waned.

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"When he was struggling with his short game, he'd always say, 'Come on coach, let's have a chipping contest,' " Decker said. "He wasn't going to back away from that."

Now that he's through it, Miller can joke about a year he said was "so bad that I probably should have started applying for jobs then."

But he never pictured himself with a desk job, and after rediscovering his game as a junior, golfing for a living became an option.

He holed out on the first playoff hole at a regional qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Championship in the summer of 2011, which he called a turning point in his career.

"Everyone who's been on TV has played there," Miller said. "That was the first time I legitimately thought about it, then my senior year, I played pretty solid and figured I'd give it a shot."

Just as he did as a junior, Miller shot under par more consistently as a senior, and earned All-Atlantic 10 honors in his final spring at Richmond. He had elbow surgery and spent a year assisting Decker at Richmond while he mended.

When the Spiders' season ended, he played a dozen tournaments on the eGolf Gateway Tour, making six cuts. He also qualified for the Web.com Tour's Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C., his first on that tour.

The following year, he played on the PGA's "minor league" tour in Canada. He spent 10 weeks in Canada and played a few more eGolf tournaments to get tournament practice, then tried to qualify for the Web.com Tour in the fall.

Now, it's back to a full schedule on the eGolf Gateway Tour, with 10tournaments remaining this summer. He had his first two top-10 finishes as a pro in his last two tournaments on the tour.

He hopes to Monday qualify for select Web.com Tour events as well, depending on how he's playing at any given time. If he does qualify and makes the top-20, he'll automatically qualify for the next tournament.

"Best-case scenario is I qualify for one, get on a little roll and get in the next week," he said. "You can pick up status that way."

This fall, he'll again try to qualify for the Web.com Tour full-time for 2016, where the purses are much bigger. At just 24 years old, he knows there's plenty of time — and that attrition is just as big of a factor in making it to the top as skill.

"The hard part is for every guy like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, there's 50 guys like me, if not more," Miller said. "I feel like everyone who plays in college is probably good enough.It's just a matter of who's willing to put in that amount of time and effort to make it."

Just how much time and effort? Barbie Miller says he'll arrive home after a stretch of tournaments and tell her, "Maybe I'm going to take a day or two or three off."

"The next morning, he'll come downstairs dressed for golf," she said. "What about those two or three days off?" she'll ask.

The chase, it seems, takes no breaks.

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