Having started the 2013 season with no status, 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic, made nearly $4 million, finished seventh in the FedEx Cup and -- as Golf Week's Adam Schupak pointed out -- has already "leapfrogged" two World Golf Hall of Fame inductees in career earnings.
Spieth's runner-up finish in the Tour Championship at East Lake moved him past Johnny Miller and Lee Trevino, who turned pro in 1969 and 1960 respectively, on the all-time money list.
"Does it make you mad that in his first year he has beaten you on the all-time money list?" Golf Channel commentator Terry Gannon jokingly asked Miller.
"Back then we played for peanuts," Miller replied. "Maybe some popcorn every now and then."
Spieth, who has repeatedly said that his only goal was "just to get on Tour next season," has already accomplished so much more. He will become the youngest American ever to play in the Presidents Cup when he tees off at Muirfield Village in October.
The lead analyst for NBC's U.S. Open coverage, Johnny Miller, said Wednesday he wished Fox Sports the best but was sad that NBC Sports won't be airing the tournament after next year.
Fox Sports and the USGA agreed on a 12-year deal last month that awarded the rights to Fox to televise the tournament until 2026. NBC had aired the final rounds of the Open since 1995.
"The U.S. Open was always my championship. It’s what I was groomed to do, to play," Miller said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "I just always got up for the Open and loved it. You know, I’ll still love it. I just won’t be covering it."
Last month, Miller told the AP that saying that Fox "can't just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open."
Wednesday, he said he hopes the network does a good job with their coverage.
"It’s something that’s pretty sad for me," he said. "All of us at ... Golf channel, but especially NBC ... put their heart and soul into it," Miler said. "That was the focal point of everything we did and I just hope that Fox does ... I absolutely wish them absolutely the best. It’s such a great championship."
Miller also had a few thoughts on how he would rank the major tournaments and the FedExCup Championship in terms of importance. Miller won the U.S. Open in 1973 and the British Open in 1976, but never won the PGA or the Masters.
"As a player if I had a choice between the British Open/Open, or the U.S. Open or the Masters, it's about a dead time now to me. You know, the PGA is obviously a really good tournament, too...They are all about the three best flavors of Baskin Robbins; pretty hard to argue which one is better."
Johnny Miller won't be hanging up his microphone just because NBC's storied relationship with the USGA will come to an end after next year. That's the way Miller's broadcast partner Dan Hicks sees it, anyway.
In a wide-ranging interview with Ed Sherman, Hicks says the newly inked USGA-FOX partnership was a shocker that saddened both Hicks and Miller, as their days of calling the U.S. Open for NBC will end (at least for the foreseeable future) with the 2014 Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Still, Hicks added, Miller probably won't walk away from the booth just because the Peacock network failed to hang onto the rights to our national championship.
"I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think Johnny is too good to just walk away because we’re not doing the Open anymore. He still wants to do some golf. Our team is tight. If the crew was breaking up, then I could see him leaving.
"We still [televise] a lot of good golf at NBC; the Florida swing; the Players; the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. I think Johnny will want to be part of that."
For now, Hicks says, he'll concentrate on being the new voice of Notre Dame football. And he'll keep plenty busy with a full slate of golf tournaments in 2014. After that, though, he'll have some more time on his hands. Although he said the USGA was right to open up the bidding, the FOX news was "a kick to the stomach."
"The U.S. Open gets in your blood. It becomes a part of who you are. I’m still coming to terms with knowing that next year will be our last U.S. Open. I probably won’t absorb it until 2015 when we’re on the outside looking in. It’s going to be tough.
"I feel worse for (Miller) than anyone. He gives so much emotion to that championship. After I talked to (producer Tommy Roy), I called Johnny. You could hear the emotion in his voice."
"David Hill has reached out to me, we have spoken and yes, they have offered me the job," Norman confirmed in an email sent from his home in Florida. "I am flattered to have been asked and I look forward to having discussions with my good friend (Hill) in the very near future."
Hill, senior vice president for News Corp., ran Fox Sports Media Group before moving over recently to manage "American Idol" and the "X Factor" for the network.
Photo: Greg Norman at Wimbledon in July (Getty Images).
Not that Rory’s relationship with Caroline Wozniacki is completely to blame.
In addition to emotions, Miller blamed McIroy’s mechanics, noting that an open shoulder at address appeared to be causing the young star to “scoop” shots, leaving them short.
“His 9-iron and wedge have been really horrendous, and he just lost the magic with his putting,” Miller said. “He’s hit the grand slam of things you have to watch out for when you’re at the top. He’s a bit of a mess.”
Contributing further to the chaos, Miller said, was McIlroy’s recent equipment switch.
“I would say it’s one thing to change your driver or wedge, but you’re asking for huge trouble when you change all your clubs and your golf ball at the same time. I did it with Wilson, and I went into an immediate slump for four or five months.”
Winless this season, McIroy missed the cut in his last two starts in Europe, and has mostly made a mess of his Stateside starts this year.
Along the way, he has lost his top spot in the World Golf Rankings, falling behind another (relatively) young lovebird, Tiger Woods.
Photo: Caroline Wozniacki caddies for Rory McIlroy during the Par 3 Contest at the 2013 Masters (Getty Images).
NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller thinks a Masters victory for the world's No. 1 player would create a big run of momentum for Tiger in 2013.
“The bottom line is this one, if he can win here and not finish second
or third, it’s going to open the floodgates a little bit.”
Miller, a two-time major winner, said on Golf Channel Wednesday morning that Augusta National is "tailor-made" for Woods, but that he will be watching how Tiger handles the tricky greens at Augusta. Woods is currently leading the Tour in strokes gained-putting and needed only 100 total putts, a career low, to win at Doral last month.
“He knows his game is back. Now the question mark is can
he make those same putts? He’s been making everything, but can he make
them at Augusta, where he hasn’t been making them for several years? That’s been the reason he hasn’t won at Augusta, whether it’s a little
bit nerves, getting a little older -- I’ve seen never him yip a putt, by
the way -- because as we get older, a lot of putts start lipping out."
If Tiger's putter doesn't fail him this week and he finally gets off the 14 major mark, there will be no doubt that he is 'back," Miller said. Only Augusta National stands in his way.
“If he can win at Augusta, he is going to be a tough guy to handle the next few years. I think it makes his year if he can win the Masters. It shows he’s back, that he’s back on track to break Jack’s record. But he’s got to go through Augusta, though.”
Photo: Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo at Augusta National on Tuesday (Getty Images).
Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange took Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo to task for their criticism earlier this year of Rory McIlroy's equipment change from Titleist to Nike, according to Reuters' Tony Jimenez. Miller said that the swtich could cost McIlroy at the 2013 majors and Faldo called it a "dangerous move."
"(Nick) Faldo and (Johnny) Miller have been somewhat critical of
it -– they are so far out of line, so out of touch with club
manufacturers now. All the clubs these days are top line, top
shelf, perfectly fitted for each player. Faldo and Miller caused a stir
when there was no reason to."
Strange said he switched clubs multiple times, and each time it took one day to get used to the new equipment.
"I don't think clubs have anything to do with it at all ... switching
clubs is no big thing. It's all overblown. I think all the top clubs are
virtually identical. Rory's problems are not with his clubs. His troubles of late have been
more with the swing than anything else. I love watching Rory play, I love his swing and I don't think it's time
to panic or worry too much about him. He's not playing well
right now, but he can be explosive overnight and he's proved that."
McIlroy agreed with Strange's assessment that the swoosh on his equipment isn't causing any problems. In his pre-Masters press conference, McIlroy spoke fondly of his new clubs saying, "I feel they're a part of me now."
For what it's worth, Curtis Strange is a member of the Nike player team.
Photo: Curtis Strange at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii in January (Chris Condon/PGA Tour).
While Poulter backed off a putt on the 11th green multiple times, Miller referred to him as “fairly dramatic.” Minutes later, when he took some time to hit an approach shot into the 12th hole, Miller had the following exchange with fellow commentator Dan Hicks:
Miller: “It's like he's starring in the movie ‘The Winds of Maui’ and is trying to make it very dramatic.”
Hicks: “Well, he is a man comfortable in the leading role isn't he?”
Miller: “Yes, he sure is.”
After play was halted, Poulter heard varying accounts of Miller's remarks and took to Twitter to defend himself.
Johnny miller why don't you come interview me live and say that stuff straight to my face...... Was you watching a different channel.
"I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK. If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I'd play for Northern Ireland.”
"Parity" is often used with disdain by commentators and pundits who surround team sports. It's regarded as the worst of the worst when it comes to creating interest from fans, while so called dynasties, like the Bulls with Michael Jordan, the Yankees with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the 49ers with Joe Montana, appear to be the highest peak on the mountain. It's no surprise then, that the Tiger era was considered by many to be the greatest period in the history of golf, and the viewership and participation numbers seem to back them up.
But have we now reached an era of parity in golf's major championships? Don't Tiger, Phil, and Rory dominate? No, actually they don't. As Carl Steward of The Oakland Tribune points out, in the last 14 majors there have been 14 different winners, and Tiger isn't one of them. That's only one major short of the longest streak of non-repeat winners in the history of the game since the Masters was started in 1934 (when Lee Janzen won his second U.S. Open at Olympic in '98 it had been 15 majors without a repeat winner).
If you're looking for further evidence of parity, consider this: seven of the last 14 winners were first timers, and most of them weren't even the top players in the world. In fact, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, and Adam Scott have combined to win exactly zero majors. And all of them reside in the top 25 in the world.
So what's the deal? How come nobody has stepped up in Tiger's absence to grab a bunch of majors? According to U.S. Open and British Open champion Johnny Miller, a lot of the top players, like Lee Westwood, just aren't up to the task.
"Some guys just can’t handle major championship pressure, Westwood can handle it well enough to have a chance to be in contention but not enough to hit that heroic shot on the last hole and do whatever he needs to do. He’s had many chances. And so that opens the door for a lot of other people that were maybe surprised that they won."
Miller also thinks the attitude of many of today's players is holding them back.
"What you don’t see is that fire to sort of determine who he is and his self-worth by championships," he said. "You know, I was never that way. To me, it was like, yeah, I’d like to win an Open. But I was also enjoying my family and life, where some of these guys, self-worth was about how many championships they won." "Even with Jack Nicklaus, going out fishing with him, he told me, ’You know, I could have won more majors if I really focused a little more,’ " Miller continued. "I was like, ’Dang, Jack, you won 18, how many do you want?’ I didn’t ever think that way. And I think Rory is a lot like I am. He’s just happy being as good as he is."
In the end however, Miller does think a dominant player could emerge on the scene, but warns that it won't be just anybody.
"There’s always room for a dominant player, it’s that just dominant players don’t fall off trees."
What do you think: Has parity been reached in golf's majors, or will another Jack or Tiger come along to dominate? Let us know in the comments section below.
Olympic Club makes adjustments for U.S. Open Like a lot of storied old championship tracks that were built at a time when players used decrepit old golf balls, weak-lofted muscleback irons and woods made of wood, the Olympic Club's Lakeside course was significantly altered to stand up to today's stronger players and juiced up equipment. According to The Monterey County Herald, the various changes include:
1. Nearly 400 more yards of length.
2. An entirely new 8th hole.
3. The removal of thousands of pine, cedar, cypress, and eucaplyptus trees from sides of fairways.
4. The first hole made into a long par 4 instead of a par 5.
5. Bentgrass greens instead of poa annua, making the greens more consistent but much faster and even more treacherous.
What will be the result of these changes? Nobody can know for sure until the tournament is contested, but it's safe to say the USGA has gone to great lengths (no pun intended) to do what they can to protect par. Of all the changes, the most significant will likely be the switch from poa annua to bentgrass greens. The former is common on west coast golf courses and tend to be bumpy and inconsistent throughout the day due to a fast growth rate. But bentgrass, while smoother and more consistent, can be very fast, and with Olympic's small and difficult greens, and the USGA's penchant for creating incredibly tough conditions, this year's Open could have more than the normal share of crazy putts.
For an idea of what to expect, check out some of the action from the '98 U.S. Open at Olympic, and keep in mind the greens were poa annua back then.