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Milligan makes most of his state golf experience

Forest Grove junior Brad Milligan enjoys his first trip to state

CORVALLIS — Brad Milligan isn’t shy about proclaiming John Daly as his favorite professional golfer.

The brash Daly is known for his big drives and even bigger personality, chain-smoking his way around the golf course, sometimes hitting tee shots off Diet Coke cans and almost always sporting flamboyant outfits to match his outsized persona.

Milligan, a junior at Forest Grove, didn’t do anything remotely controversial last week at the Class 6A state tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis — shooting back-to-back rounds of 9-over-par 81 to finish in a tie for 53rd place — but he did win the unofficial title of “best dressed” in Tuesday’s final round, channeling Daly and wearing a pair of star-spangled banner pants that caught nearly everyone’s attention.

“I got them for Christmas from my parents,” Milligan said of the pants. “They’re from Loud Mouth. I’m a big John Daly fan and John Daly is sponsored by them.”

The pants matched Milligan’s game last week. The junior turned heads with his huge drives, but — like Daly — he occasionally got himself into trouble by trying to go big on every hole.

“I made two triples and three doubles in the entire tournament, which is 12 strokes alone that I could have gotten back,” Milligan said last Tuesday. “That would have put me in a lot better spot. I get big numbers sometimes.”

Milligan started the tournament on May 16 by making a triple bogey on his second hole, the par-4, 340-yard 11th at Trysting Tree. He made five more bogeys on the front to make the turn at 8-over, but he showed his immense potential by making two birdies and six pars on the back nine to salvage his round, checking into the clubhouse with a 9-over 81.

It was the same story on Tuesday, with Milligan making a triple bogey on his third hole of the day. He made a birdie two holes later on the par-5, 552-yard 14th, but he would card five bogeys and one double the rest of the way to match his opening round score of 81 and finish in a tie for 53rd place overall.

“Not my favorite, but it’s fine. I could have scored way better, but I had a lot of fun,” Milligan said of his first state tournament appearance. “I mean, it could have been a lot better, but it was a good experience, for sure.”

South Medford junior Reese Fisher won individual medalist honors with a two-day total of 2-under 142. Lake Oswego won the team title by one stroke over Jesuit, shooting a 21-over 597.

Forest Grove boys golf coach Brian Peters said he can see big things in Milligan’s future if the junior can evolve his game to be less like that of his free-swinging hero.

“If you watch his swing, he obviously emulates John Daly,” Peters said. “He hits it way out there. The entire time I was following him (at the state tournament), he was longer than anybody else I saw out there.

“As a coach, I’m trying to work with him on situational golf. Sometimes it’s better to hit an iron off the tee and just try to make par rather than trying to go for it every time.”

Milligan’s high-risk, high-reward style of golf helped him birdie three of Trysting Tree’s longest par-5s last week, but it also put him in position to make triple bogeys on a pair of manageable par-4s.

“We talked about certain things after his round,” Peters said. “With the pressure of certain situations, he made some bad decisions that got him into trouble. But we’re going to work on that.”

Peters said that Milligan has signed up for some OGA junior golf tournaments this summer and is working hard to climb the ladder.

“Now that he’s been there, he knows what it’s going to take,” Peters said. “He’s definitely commited to getting better.”

With a little improvement between now and next spring, Milligan’s golf game could turn as many heads as his flashy pants.

“I got some good comments from most people. People who don’t like it just keep to themselves. But I don’t care about them,” he said with a smirk.