Notebook: Johnny Miller unsure he could deal with his own criticism

Johnny Miller
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Johnny Miller says that today's sophisticated audiences expect him to be forthright in his criticism.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour
KAPALUA, Hawaii – No other golf announcer gets under a player's skin like Johnny Miller, who has developed his own style – and vocabulary – in his 20 years with NBC Sports. Could the two-time major champion take it as well as he can dish it out?
 
Miller will never know.
 
He said on a conference call leading up to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions that he played in a different era of TV commentary.
 
''In my era, nobody said anything but namby-pamby stuff,'' Miller said. ''Nobody ever said anything that would make you upset. As Dave Marr said, we were just gilding the road back then, just making everybody look good.''
 
Miller does believe in compliments. He's not afraid to praise. But he believes golf is much bigger than it was in the 1970s, and viewership expects more.
 
''It's not just a cute little sport, or an awesome game,'' he said. ''Now it's sort of a world sport, and in the public view, they want more than, 'That was a fantastic wedge shot 30 feet right of the hole.' That's not what they want to hear.
 
''I hate to say it, but I'm probably the guy that got announcing a little bit more real, sort of an 'X Games' type of announcer,'' he said. ''And sometimes I wish I wasn't the way I am, but that's the way I talk about my own game, so it's just the way I viewed it. I wasn't trying to rip anybody, but I have a high standard, and I feel like the best players in the world should perform. And if they don't, I'm not going to just say, 'Oh, that was a bad break' or something.''
 
THE KING PAYS TRIBUTE: In his final ''State of the Game'' published on Golf Channel's website, Arnold Palmer offered poignant tributes to some of the golf personalities who died in 2013. He also wanted to set the record straight that Frank Stranahan had as much to do with invigorating the British Open as Palmer did.
 
The British Open didn't always get the best players, mainly because it cost more money to get there than players made in the tournament. Palmer went over in 1960, having won the first two majors that year, and he won the claret jug in 1961 and 1962.
 
''I am often given credit for ''salvaging'' the British Open in the early 1960s,'' Palmer wrote. ''We can argue whether or not the game's most historic championship really was in danger of sinking, but it is safe to say that after World War II, many American competitors simply found it easy and more profitable to compete here in the United States. Frank never quit on the Open. He continued to compete there on a regular basis, and finished second in 1947 and 1953.
 
''His devotion to the Open Championship is what inspired me to go over in 1960. I won the following year, and I've been credited ever since with ''saving'' the Open, but it was Frank who paved the way.''
 
MR. CLUTCH: Jack Nicklaus is regarded as golf's most clutch putter during his generation. That apparently included playing against his sons.
 
Jack Nicklaus II was asked recently if he could recall the first time he beat his father.
 
''I had a putt to beat him or Dad had a putt to miss or whatever, he seemed to always make it, and I seemed to always miss,'' Jackie Nicklaus said. ''Honestly, I don't know if I recall the first time I beat him. It doesn't happen very often. It still doesn't happen very often.''
 
Nicklaus said all four of his sons have beaten him in casual games. But he never let them win.
 
''If I had a 30-foot putt to keep one of them from beating me, I probably made it,'' Nicklaus said. ''And the reason for that is that I've always felt like I don't want to ever give them anything. If they're going to beat me, they've got to beat me, and I think when you do that, then they feel like they've really earned it.''
 
GOLF CHANNEL ON RADIO: Golf Channel no longer will just be seen. Starting this year, it also will be heard.
 
Golf Channel is expanding to radio for the first time in a broadcast agreement with SiriusXM. Programming will start Monday on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio (XM channel 93, Sirius channel 208).
 
The programming that will be featured on radio includes ''Morning Drive'' hosted by Gary Williams, which is a natural fit. When ''Morning Drive'' began, its studio looked like it was built for a radio talk show. The only problem was it could only be seen on television.
 
''Radio is a natural extension as Golf Channel continues to expand,'' said Mike McCarley, president of Golf Channel.
 
SiriusXM already has beefed up its programming this year with shows hosted by the likes of Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Ben Crenshaw.
 
DIVOTS: More than just PGA Tour winners are at Kapalua this week. In the days before tournament week starts, the Plantation Course featured Rory Sabbatini, Scott Piercy and Scott Verplank, all of whom are on Maui for vacation. Verplank is taking an exemption for career money and will make his first start next week in the Sony Open. He said he last played Waialae in 1987. ... Ryo Ishikawa, who earned his PGA Tour card back through the Web.com Tour Finals, moved to the top of the priority ranking in the first reshuffle on the strength of a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. ... The 30-man field at Kapalua includes 13 first-time winners.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods is the only player to win the Tournament of Champions and a major in the same year since it moved to Kapalua in 1999.
 
FINAL WORD: ''It's hard to predict golf. It was pretty easy to predict Tiger there for a while.'' – Johnny Miller.