PGA Tour

Clemson star Mills has busy two weeks with Masters, RBC Heritage

ccox@islandpacket.comApril 11, 2012 

Corbin Mills was trying not to panic.

The Clemson University star stepped into the first tee box Thursday at Augusta National desperately looking to quell his nerves. The 21-year-old -- who was playing in his first PGA Tour event -- approached the par-4 dubbed Tea Olive with a dry mouth and a pair of shaky hands, which he quickly tried to steady.

"It was really nerve-wracking," Mills said. "Everybody experiences it. It doesn't matter if you've played it 10, 20 times, you're still going to be nervous on that first tee box.

"I was extremely nervous. It took me about five holes to get over it."

Mills did eventually settle down, but was 11-over par through the first two rounds, missing the cut and finishing 86th. The Wren High School product shot a 2-over 74 through the first 18 holes, then battled through balmy conditions Friday morning en route to a second-round 81.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I learned a lot last week. I was happy with the first day. I really wasn't too unhappy with the second day. It wasn't what I wanted.

"I really wanted to make the cut. But you learn from your mistakes."

Mills will take those lessons learned at last week's Masters and apply them to his second career tour event this weekend at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. The Easley native, who earned an exemption after winning the 2011 Players Amateur, left Tuesday's practice round encouraged with his performance. It was his first time playing at Harbour Town Golf Links in "four or five years," he said.

"I like it. I think it sets up for my game," he said. "It's completely different from last week and so much more laid back, too. I felt like I got some good work in today on the course. It's in great shape."

Mills, who will turn 22 on April 30, has made quite a few stops along the way to Hilton Head Island. He grew up the son of missionary parents, Stoney and Kristi, and spent his childhood playing street hockey in Russia and tennis in Italy.

"Going from a few different countries and getting thrown back into schools here and stuff like that, it seems like I grew up really fast," he said. "I think that might help me in a positive way."

His love for golf can largely be credited to his grandfather, Boyd Mills, who helped nudge his grandson into the game as a child.

"(He) had a huge impact on my game," he said. "He was the one that would ship me clubs overseas trying to get me into the game. He was just really pushing the golf. He was always there for me."

Mills believes Boyd was looking over him during his first two rounds at Augusta and that he will once again be there this weekend. Boyd died suddenly of a heart attack late last month, just a few days after watching Corbin shoot a third-round 65 at the Furman Invitational on March 18.

"I know he's watching. I do," he said. "He was super proud of me and he would be extremely happy where I am and what I'm doing now."

Mills said he doesn't have "extremely huge" expectations for this weekend, outside of steady improvement. He continues to make strides in his short game, which could play a factor in his performance at the Heritage.

"It's gotten a lot better," he said. "I think my game is where it needs to be. I've put a lot of work in coming to these two weeks. I think I'm going to start seeing some positives."

And if he doesn't leave the Heritage with the showing he is hoping for, he'll still walk away with another fond memory in his journey to professional golf.

"I just want to put myself into position to play good golf and see what happens," he said. "I just want to enjoy the week, enjoy this experience."

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service