Papa Jon’s paternity leave is up and he heads back to work this week at the Louisiana Open on the Nationwide Tour.
As reported at GNN last week, Jon Mills and wife Megan celebrated the arrival of their first-born about a week-and-a-half ago. Mom and son are doing just fine.
Mills was absent from the first two events on this year’s Nationwide Tour schedule, but the quest to get back to the PGA Tour gets underway this week after he came close in 2010.
I had a chance to chat with Mills for my Sun Media column, which appeared on Monday. You can read that below.
One of the more familiar Canadian names on the Nationwide Tour didn’t take part in the first two events of the season, but injuries had nothing to do with it as Jon Mills and his wife Megan welcomed their first-born just over a week ago.
Benjamin Andrew Mills weighed in at 11 pounds, two ounces. Mom and son are doing fine.
“I figured I didn’t want to go Colombia and Panama and have to get back here – it wouldn’t happen,” said Mills, who knows the joys of fatherhood will change his life somewhat.
“I’m out there and I see how people travel with kids and stuff and there’s a lot that goes with that. Things are obviously going to change, especially with travel and everything like that,” he said.
One thing that won’t change when his season gets underway on Thursday at the Louisiana Open is his quest to not become a familiar name on the Nationwide Tour, preferring instead to have it associated with the PGA Tour, where he’s had two tours of duty already.
“I’m usually playing by now and usually in a warmer climate getting ready, but I feel like there’s a big enough gap between Bogota and Lousiana (almost three weeks) where I can be (at home),” said Mills, who spent a few weeks in Arizona, where he tried to Monday qualify for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Mills, 33, is into his third consecutive season on the Nationwide Tour, where he returned after playing the PGA Tour in 2008, and he says that, despite not being as prepared as other years, he is confident as he kicks off the season.
“After coming back from the (PGA Tour), I didn’t have that great of a year, but I felt that last year was a really good year,” said Mills, who seemed ready to crash the top 25 on the money list who graduate to the PGA Tour.
Mills especially seemed destined to make it through the money list when he held the 54-hole lead at the Jacksonville Open, the second last event of the schedule and the final full field event. Instead of putting the hammer down, he stumbled with a four-over 74 in the final round and fell into a tie for fifth.
It didn’t get any better at the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship where Mills was four over for the tournament and tied for 38th, which earned him just $4,800.
That left Mills in 33rd spot. On his previous two graduations to the PGA Tour, he had always gone through the money list, powered by his win at the Canadian PGA Championship in 2005 to set up his rookie year in 2006.
After his return to the Nationwide Tour the following season, Mills finished fourth on the money list, helped in a big way from his victory at the Albertsons Boise Open, to make his return to the PGA Tour in 2008.
Forced to take a different route, Mills tied for 41st at 2010 qualifying school, meaning another year on the Nationwide, but Mills takes a positive attitude into this season after coming so close.
“You look over the year and maybe, you had some issues here and there, but you look back to see how close I was to actually getting my card and that’s the difference,” said Mills.
“It was nice towards the end of the year to have the chance to win an event. I hadn’t had the lead like I did in Jacksonville for a long time,” he added.
“I had a two-shot lead going into Sunday, which I hadn’t had in quite awhile, so that whole experience, it was nice to get back into that. It’s just a matter of building from that,” said Mills.