Instead of being in front of the cameras, as has been the case for the previous 20 years as the lead analyst on NBC, Miller was signing autographs Saturday at the Lexus tent at Spectator Square at Chambers Bay. That’s because Fox is the USGA’s new broadcast partner.
UNIVERSITY PLACE — Johnny Miller was in an unusual spot for him Saturday at the U.S. Open.
Instead of being in front of the cameras, as has been the case for the previous 20 years as the lead analyst on NBC, he was signing autographs Saturday at the Lexus tent at Spectator Square at Chambers Bay. That’s because Fox is the USGA’s new broadcast partner.
“It is kind of hard, because I was doing that for 20 years and then I played in about 20 Opens,” he said. “But doing this helps, and it’s good to be here.”
Miller, 68, has been long associated with the U.S. Open after he shot what many consider the greatest round in golf history in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh. Miller shot a 63, setting a record in a major championship that has yet to be surpassed, and he came from six shots back to win.
Miller, known for being very honest in his opinions, raved about Chambers Bay. It was quite a contrast to the negative comments fellow Hall of Famer Gary Player gave in an interview Friday.
“It’s an awesome piece of property, and I think it’s one of the great courses in the United States,” Miller said, expecting it to improve as it ages. “I think it has the potential to be one of the great treasures in America, golf-wise.”
Ladenburg fires back at Player
John Ladenburg, the former Pierce County executive who was the driving force to build Chambers Bay, fired back at Gary Player on Twitter on Saturday after Player ripped the course in a Yahoo! Sports interview Friday. Player called Chambers Bay “one of the worst golf courses I’ve seen in my 63 years as a pro.”
Ladenburg tweeted, “Player is still mad I passed him over to build (Chambers Bay). He also tweeted that, “Gary Player is part of history, not the future.”
One of the course architects, Jay Blasi, tweeted, “Greatly respect Gary Player and agree with his goals for golf but he is uninformed as it relates to (Chambers Bay).”
Player went into another gear on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show when he made these comments in what some termed a rant:
• “This has been the most unpleasant golf tournament I’ve seen in my life.”
• “The man who designed this golf course must have had one leg shorter than the other.”
• “It’s actually a tragedy.”
• “There have never been so many people that missed the cut that are so happy to go home.”
• Six amateurs made the cut this year, the highest number since six in 1966.
• When Chambers Bay played to 7,695 yards in the second round, it became the longest course in U.S. Open history. The previous longest was 7,643 yards at Torrey Pines in 2008.
• Butch Harmon, who started working with Tiger Woods as swing coach when Woods was at Stanford but was fired by Woods in 2004, told Sky Sports after Woods shot 80-76 that his former student “looks like a lost soul out there.”
“It’s tough to watch,” Harmon said after Woods missed the cut by 11 strokes. “We were trying to think what we could compare it to, and my son, Claude, had the best analogy. It’s like going to Wimbledon and watching Roger Federer not be able to hit the ball over the net.”
• Jim Furyk, 2003 U.S. Open champion, said he thinks all the talk about players needing to spend extra time playing Chambers Bay to familiarize themselves with the course was “overblown.”
“I don’t feel like I’ve made a lot of mistakes this week because of lack of preparation,” Furyk said after shooting a 3-over 73 to stand at 7-over 217 heading into the final round. He said he thinks three practice rounds are sufficient to prepare for the championship.
• The first two rounds were played in threesomes, and the average time it took to play Round 1 was 5 hours, 18 minutes and Round 2 (cut day) was 5 hours, 28 minutes.
• In the full-field first two rounds before the cut, 93 of the 156 players were averaging more than 300 yards on drives where the length was being measured. Amateur Ollie Schniederjans had the longest average — 342.8 yards.