Uncharted territory: Todd Miller, Clark Rustand look back on unusual no-Sunday 2004 State Am finish
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Ten years ago a historic Utah State Amateur was played at the Jeremy Country Club near Park City. It was the year the first woman, Annie Thurman, played in the tournament, and she played very well, making it to match play before losing in the round of 16.
But the 2004 State Amateur will forever be known as the first State Am that was decided on Saturday night in the clubhouse rather than Sunday afternoon on the golf course.
The tournament came to a stunning conclusion when one of the two finalists, Todd Miller, announced after his semifinal victory that he wouldn’t play in the finals because of religious reasons — he didn’t want to play on Sunday. So the State Am title — by forfeit — went to Clark Rustand, the winner of the other semifinal match.
It caused plenty of controversy at the time, with golfers and fans choosing sides on whether it was right for Miller to take the stand that he did, when he did. Miller received both praise and criticism for his decision, although the following week he apologized to the Utah Golf Association for not letting the organization know sooner of his intentions.
Also two days after, Todd Miller’s father, Johnny Miller, blasted the UGA’s policy of playing on Sunday at a press conference for his Champions Challenge tournament, saying no major tournament in Utah should be played on Sunday.
"The bottom line is (Todd) addressed an issue, drew blood, and now it's a very obvious change that needs to be made," Johnny said.
Johnny indicated that indeed, it was part of a plan to force the UGA to stop playing on Sunday, telling reporters, "On this particular issue, I'm going to do whatever it takes. I hope you'll never know about (plans) B and C."
However, the UGA didn’t back down and continued to hold its finale on Sunday as it had for the previous century. Johnny Miller, who played hundreds of tournaments on Sunday in his career as well as working as a commentator on NBC on Sundays for two decades, never said much more about the issue publicly.
Ironically, a decade later, the State Amateur is no longer played on Sunday because of a change that had nothing to do with Miller’s Sabbath stand in 2004. Last year, the UGA turned the tournament into a six-day, Monday to Saturday affair to accommodate an extra day with 64 golfers in match play instead of 32.
So now golfers who prefer not to play on Sundays can participate in the State Amateur, although there is always a chance that the tournament finals could be pushed back to Sunday because of weather issues.
'Out of the clear blue'
Clark Rustand and Todd Miller are now both 34 years old and each has young families with three kids apiece. Rustand lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he grew up, and runs an insurance business. Miller lives in Provo, where he is the assistant coach for the BYU golf team, a job he’s held for the past nine years.
Both have fond memories of the 2004 State Am when both were playing some of the best golf of their young lives.
Rustand had been a JC All-American at Utah Valley, before playing briefly at BYU as a teammate of Miller’s.
Miller is the youngest of Johnny and Linda Miller's six children and at one point in his teenage years was thought to have the best potential of four sons to follow in his dad’s footsteps on the PGA Tour. He had a solid career at BYU, where he finished the spring prior to the State Am.
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