1975 World Putting Champion
By: Howard Ward
Columbus, OH (PPA Course) - Gary Miller began the "Week of the
World" as just another putter. He finished it as the Professional
Putters Association World Champion and perhaps the richest meter reader
As the PPA touring Pros neared their Utopia in Columbus, Ohio, the
legend of Dan Anders was growing with each qualifying tournament. The
Golden Boy from St. Petersburg, Florida was drawing raves with his
flashing smile as well as his deadly putter. The other pros were sitting
up nights trying to come up with some way to stop the blond 20-year-old
college student with the magnetic personality.
It was left up to unsung Miller to un-track the Anders' Express,
however, and he did it not once, but twice, on his way to the $50,000
The showdown match came on a sweltering Friday afternoon on a
rain-soaked PPA course which figured to give the two young fortune
seekers a lot of problems.
Miller was bothered by the adverse conditions to the extent that he
shot an 11 on the front nine with seven aces and was riding high with a
three-hole lead. Anders made a gallant effort to make up the deficit on
the back, but could never close the gap nearer than two holes. His dream
of a 50-grand payday was ended when he took a deuce on the 16th hole and
watched helplessly as the cool Miller rolled in an ace to close the
match out 3 and 2.
It was an emotional week for the slim Miller, a three-year member of
the PPA who came to Columbus showing only $1,500 in prize money for his
He tried to qualify for the World quarterfinals in Sunday's Northern
Regionals and saw his hopes dashed hurriedly as Charlie Davis of
Winston-Salem, NC, bumped him off in sudden death in the first round.
Miller's wife, Sharlene, had to return to work in Atlanta Monday
afternoon, so he decided he might as well make her flight home an
In the opening round of the Central Regionals, He nipped Euclid,
Ohio's Bill Baus 2 and 1.
Then he nailed Albuquerque, New Mexico's Don Lewis with a 4 and 3
decision, only to draw the red-hot Anders as an opponent.
"That's it for Miller," the wise guys smirked. But when the
smoke had cleared, the unbelievable had occurred. Miller couldn't miss
and once he had Anders down, took charge in a way which should have
served as a premonition of things to come. With eight holes left,
Anders' chimes had been rung and the unheralded Miller was only one
match away from his quarterfinals berth. A goal even he had to admit
would have appeared unattainable a few hours before.
Standing between Miller and that dream was a mountain of reality in
the form of Duane Hilbers, PPA pro from Omaha, Nebraska. However,
Hilbers, another quiet man was making a lot of noise with his putter in
this $320,000 event, was on a hot streak. He had knocked off Euclid,
Ohio's Ray Browning, Baltimore, Maryland's Buddy Taylor, and Steve Lyon
from Greensboro, NC, in earlier matches and was functioning like a
machine from his widespread stance.
The Miller-Hilbers match was a classic in itself. With both players
putting with such deliberation that the other two finalist seeking
quarterfinals berths, Dave Taylor also from Baltimore and Jim Borchelt,
from Cincinnati, reeled off 33 holes while they played on 16. First one
and then the other would take the lead and it went into the 36th hole
With Sharlene in the bleachers agonizing to the point that her nails
were buried in the shoulder of first-day qualifier Gerald Knott, Miller
showed his poise by ramming home his tee shot on the tough finishing
hole. Hilbers missed and a champion was on his way.
Anders, apparently left only more determined by his thrashing in the
Central Division, cam back on Tuesday to fight hi way through four
matches for one of the Southern berths.
While boyhood friend Gary English of Orlando was battling his way to
the other Southern quarterfinal spot, Anders ripped off Ray Browning in
the first match, then ran into a real hurdle in defending World Champion
Mike Baldoza, a frustrated young man who was using up his final
The duel was everything expected as two 20-year-old sharp-shooters
fought to a dead heat for 36 holes. But it ended on the 37th with Anders
acing for sudden victory.
With that formality out of the way, Anders knocked off Roger Moore
from Atlanta and Mike Peter of Houston and made it into the final eight.
The field was completed on Wednesday when two-time World runner-up
and 14-year veteran Charles McIntosh, and dark horse Wesley Beck from
Atlanta, Georgia claimed the Western Regional spots.