Eubanks: Miller Feud Fizzles

Johnny Miller
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Even among fellow Hall of Famers, Johnny Miller is the most uncomfortable man in the room. PGA.com's Steve Eubanks examines the decades-old feud between golf's most opinionated analyst and the players he continues to rip.
By
Steve Eubanks
PGA.com

Series: Eubanks

So, Johnny Miller was back in the booth this week ruffling more feathers than the Maui trade wind.

If reports from various news outlets, including the Huffington Post, are accurate, Miller once again stirred the pot of controversy, this time ticking off the ever-excitable Ian Poulter.

During one of the many attempts to get the first round underway, Miller referred to Poulter as “dramatic” on a couple of occasions when Poulter backed off a putt and tried to hit a tee shot in hurricane-force winds.

Poulter took exception to the charge and called Miller out on Twitter. Then, rather sardonically, the Englishman tried to backpedal with a stream of “HAHAHAHA’s” as if the whole thing were an uproarious misunderstanding, something straight out of “Blackadder.”

Underpinning the spat, which wouldn’t have been newsworthy at all were it not for the lack of golf played on Maui until Monday, is one of the oldest feuds in the professional game, a running battle between the men who play professional golf and the men who talk about it: or in this case, one talking head in particular.

Poulter wouldn’t have been angry if Nick Faldo had teased him about being dramatic. This is, after all, a man who wears Union Jack pants and dyes his spiked hair blue. Drama is as much a part of his DNA as sinking 12-footers at the Ryder Cup.

What Poulter was reacting to was Johnny Miller, who has been tweaking players for so long that he no longer gets the benefit of the doubt.

He is the announcer the players love to hate. And in a game where memories last longer than most scoring records, even innocuous statements by Miller these days are greeted with a level of vitriol that often exceeds their stand-alone value.

He is no longer a “love him or hate him,” broadcaster. Lines are clearly drawn: Fans love him, players hate him.

It has been going on since Johnny first sat behind a microphone, but the first public shots in the feud came in 1999 after his comments about Justin Leonard at the Ryder Cup. When Leonard struggled in his first couple of matches, Miller said he should have sat on the couch as the hotel and watched the matches on television.

At the time Jim Furyk said, “What he said about Justin was wrong. That kind of stuff upsets me. That’s no room for that. The flip side is he’s very popular with the viewers. People love hearing stuff like that, but people love going to NASCAR to watch wrecks, too. I don’t know what that says about us.”

Davis Love, who would catch a few zingers of his own from Miller when he captained a Ryder Cup 13 years later, said after the Leonard kerfuffle, “If he continues talking about us like that, I’m going to have to talk to Tommy Roy, his producer, and say ‘Tom, I’m not talking to you guys anymore if you’re going to treat us like that.’

“What really made me mad was that Johnny said, after all that, that he represents the game,” Love continued. “Johnny Miller does not represent the game. I have not heard one person say anything but bad things about the way he does his job. The guys on tour don’t like the way he does it. If he can say he doesn’t like the way we play, we can say we don’t like the way he analyzes.”

Almost 14 years later, the acrimony continues.

Between that time and the present, Johnny made fun of Rocco Mediate’s name, saying “Guys with the name of Rocco don’t get the trophy, do they?” He was downright mean to Tim Clark as Clark was winning the Players Championship, saying things like “There’s a reason Mr. Clark has finished second eight times,” and calling it “unbelievable” when Clark found the final fairway with a driver. And he called Captain Tom Lehman’s Ryder Cup team (prior to the Matches), “probably on paper the worst Ryder Cup team we’ve ever fielded.”

Off camera he’s not much gentler. Bring up any subject – fishing, cars, boats, skiing, or the migratory patterns of the Finnish Cormorant – and Johnny knows more than you. If you don’t believe it, just ask him.

But the feud is fizzling, not because Johnny has softened his opinions, but because most players view him as a caricature. To the players, he is Ron Burgundy, so unaware of his own beclowning that his quips about one of them hitting “a really bad shot” or “not being very smart,” have become more of a reflection of the analyst than the subject.

That is why Poulter was so quick to throw the “Ha Ha’s” out after this latest dustup. He understands what most players have come to realize: Johnny is no longer worth the effort it takes to get upset at him. All you can do now is laugh.
 


Comments

bill.ann63

By what authority does Mr. Eubanks think he is qualified to evaluate JM. Sometimes people just can't stand the truth. JM criticizes the Americans as well as the Europeans unlike Faldo (foldo) who has this air of superiority that is nauseating. This SIR Nick Faldo is equally nauseating. Remember the revolutionary war? We won our God given right to stop the SIR monicker when addressing a Brit. For years the British press referred to him as foldo because he folded under pressure. As for as Davis love, he has been riding his family name and doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Hogan or Sneed. He failed miserably as a Ryder Cup Captain and the rah-rah boys are trying to cover for him.

I dont always agree with Johnny Miller but he doesn't try to play the politically correct game. He calls them like he sees'em

bill.ann63

By what authority does Mr. Eubanks think he is qualified to evaluate JM. Sometimes people just can't stand the truth. JM criticizes the Americans as well as the Europeans unlike Faldo (foldo) who has this air of superiority that is nauseating. This SIR Nick Faldo is equally nauseating. Remember the revolutionary war? We won our God given right to stop the SIR monicker when addressing a Brit. For years the British press referred to him as foldo because he folded under pressure. As for as Davis love, he has been riding his family name and doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Hogan or Sneed. He failed miserably as a Ryder Cup Captain and the rah-rah boys are trying to cover for him.

I dont always agree with Johnny Miller but he doesn't try to play the politically correct game. He calls them like he sees'em

scotttgraham

These players make tons of money and enjoy fame because of the many fans who follow the sport, the consumers. I'm a consumer and part of the enjoyment of being a fan is having an opinion and bantering about the game we love. If Miller's bantering is bothersome to some of the players than so be it. This is about the fans, it's our sport and the players work for us. Never should any critic or media person be governed by the industry they cover. Restaurant owners don't like food critics unless the review is good. Car makers don't like the trade journalists unless the review is positive. It's just the way it works. Keep it up Johnny, the fans will determine when your done, not the players.

mikevegas40

"Ben Hogan is officially rolling over in his grave." - So much better than making excuses for a player throwing the US Open away.

kaboom1916

You bunch of pussies, you have a bunch of prima madonna's playing this game and there ego's can't take the criticism. Davis Love should quit, he has no more business play the tour, he just taking up some young players slot, he's a has been. And old Bug Eyes his mother dresses him. Nick Faldo, just give him a hot water bottle, that's how exciting he is. Wake up you bunch of goodie-two-shoe announcers lets see some "cojones". Tell it like it is...

tpb1101

JM is nothing more than a tool. I can take someone criticizing a player only if he balances it out with credit where it is due. His one trick show is to see how much ire he can raise thus keeping his name relevant. Sounds like a guy who is bitter the yips took his game away.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

jkoontz69

I've never liked Miller's style...he's as arrogant as any of the current players. If he thinks he knows so much more than everyone else, and would not make any "mistakes" that they make, put up or shut up....go back out on the Senior Tour and perform. Give me Faldo as a commentator every time.

caalberson

I do not care how good he was or how accurate he is, I despise listening to his, "I...I...I...Me...Me...Me" announcing and am so relieved when anyone else is announcing. I Also turn the sound off. I am shocked to hear fans like him, as my husband and I are disgusted with his typical arrogant rant.
Thank you to all the understated golf announcers who respect their fellow PGA professionals.

charlietuna11

i'm afraid that many of these golfers have fallen hopelessly in love with themselves. miller has been there and adds great credibility. he comments on great shots and the bad ones also. keep it up johnny, your thoughts and comments are a much appreciated part of this great game that at times can be sleep inducing...

mrochford

This entire article is the journalistic equivalent of Poulter's 'ha ha ha' tweet. I wonder if you can't get someone on staff to write an explanation of your explanation of his explanation. Maybe Johnny's still touching a nerve somewhere...

charlietuna11

love golf but players are super sensitive. fans love miller because of his honest assessments., is that wrong? i've never heard els complain or other class acts. get a grip fellas. he not going to send you to bed hungry..

charlietuna11

love golf but players are super sensitive. fans love miller because of his honest assessments., is that wrong? i've never heard els complain or other class acts. get a grip fellas. he not going to send you to bed hungry..

eldeegroup1

If anyone "actually watched" the telecast, Mr. Poulter was excessively posturing, backing off, and milking the truly bad conditions for all their worth! His playing partner got in and hit his shots and putts in the same conditions without all the histrionic delays. JM called out a pompous fop and Poulter got offended- but really his is still mad because JM pointed out a few years ago that Poulter, while a wonderful world class putter, is not a very good ball striker(He is still po'd about that remark, all these years later). Poulter is a snotty, arrogant, little twit in the mold of a Ricky Hatton/Floyd Mayweather type personality.. I loved JM's frank and right on comments..

bobbeach43

The players I have encountered (many) are a bunch of spoiled little rich kids who think too much of themselves. They play a damned game and are paid too much to do it. Johnny is correct in most of his analysis and they (the players) need to lighten up. I love the game but it is the players themselves who are the most arrogant athletes in sports.

rickeaglecrest

Johnny is so right regarding professional golfers. Have you ever watched the movie Tin Cup. they are all like the character that Don Johnson played. They are so rude away from the camera. Tell it like it is. Quit sucking up to these rich spoiled brats.

tburz

personally, I like Johnny Miller's commentary. He tells what he sees and gives a good insight into what players may be experiencing. I believe he is a very good analyst of the game. Players just don't like to be critiqued. Miller is in a class all of he own. Just remember that a lot of people didn't like Tiger and his fist pumping when he arrived on the scene, but he took golf to another level of excitement. If you don't like the commentary then do as Benson above and turn off your sound.

igor707

I first saw Johnny Miller as an amateur at the Olympic Club in San Francisco when he astounded everybody by finishing, I believe, in the top ten at the US Open. He is a character, but the kind I like commenting on millionaire players who take themselves and their game too seriously. He is candid, terse and much of the time right about the game of golf and its professional participants.

igor707

I first saw Johnny Miller as an amateur at the Olympic Club in San Francisco when he astounded everybody by finishing, I believe, in the top ten at the US Open. He is a character, but the kind I like commenting on millionaire players who take themselves and their game too seriously. He is candid, terse and much of the time right about the game of golf and its professional participants.

kenbenson

I have to listen with the sound muted or not watch at all for this guy.

charlieknoxaz

Johnny Miller is quite simply a boorish analyst who once was a very good player, perhaps bordering on great for a short period in time. His 63 at Oakmont will always be the claim to fame, and it should be. But his behavior, his pompousness, his need to poke a finger into the back of the ribcage of the player he feels deserves it is no longer tolerable. The hubris of a man who once claimed to "represent the game" goes beyond analysis - it is the unbridled arrogance of a man who despairs when the names of the great players are brought up and his is a name very rarely mentioned. And he will make all of us - fans, players, journalists and the very game he claims to represent pay for our sins. The day he is finally out of the broadcast booth, NBC will more relevant and watchable.

chuckseesedj

As a radio Play-by-Play announcer, I know it's almost impossible to please everyone in the listening audience. Miller is giving his television audience exactly what they want, and after all, they're the one's who are supposed to be listening...If the golfers want more complimentary commentary, then it's pretty simple: play better golf!!!

numex7

No Johnny Miller is not Nick Faldo but I seldom find him wrong in his analysis. Egos may get bruised, too bad. I prefer the clinical aspect of the coverage rather than the rah rah.