Johnny Miller back calling the shots at a major he won

Johnny Miller, Open Championship, NBC
USA Today Sports Images
Johnny Miller is back in the commentator booth at a major championship he won as a player, with NBC's new contract with The Open.
By
Doug Ferguson
The Associated Press

Series: PGA

Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | 9:55 a.m.

TROON, Scotland (AP) -- After a one-year hiatus, Johnny Miller is back to calling the shots at a major that he won.

But no one will be hearing about a 63 at Royal Troon.

Miller developed into the most famous voice among golf analysts over the last two decades at NBC Sports. He was a perfect fit for the U.S. Open, which he famously won at Oakmont in 1973 with the first 63 in major championship history. But he was without a major last year when the USGA began its new 12-year deal with Fox.

NBC now begins a long-term deal with the R&A that was supposed to start next year at Royal Birkdale, where Miller won the Open in 1976. Instead, it took over for ESPN starting this year, and Miller has some history at Royal Troon. He was runner-up to Tom Weiskopf in 1973.

No matter.

In a year in which NBC televises the British Open, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, Miller called this "the big cherry on the top."

"I have great memories from Royal Troon," Miller said. "I won the U.S. Open at Oakmont in '73 and Tom Weiskopf after two rounds really spread open the field in really tough, rainy conditions. Had a good chance to win there, and looking forward to coming back."

Miller already made an interesting observation in a conference call Monday when he compared Troon with Pebble Beach.

"The first seven holes are quite easy," he said. "And then you hang on to your shorts."

RELATED: Open Championship tee times, pairings

As for Miller sharing his personal feats? That will have to wait until next year at Birkdale, where he held off 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros. He referenced Birkdale when asked why links golf is so different from the other majors.

"When I won at Birkdale, they were having a drought and you had to land the ball 10, 15, 20 yards short of the green," he said. "It was like the ultimate ground game championship. In fact, I won the British Open - hardly anybody knows this - the last year of the small ball, with a Surlyn cover. I think I'm the only guy that ever won The Open with a Surlyn cover."

Miller found one comparison with the U.S. Open, where it often is said the players who complain about it are the ones that rarely contend. He recalled asking Tom Watson how he won the British Open five times because of so many funky bounces that can occur along the humps and hollows of links courses.

"With a long pause he said, 'I love bad bounces. It was very revealing to me that he was saying, 'I'm a tough guy mentally, and if I'm getting bad bounces, most guys are complaining. And I know if they are getting bad bounces, I don't have to worry about them too much.'

"It's just part of the game," he said. "You've got to accept a lot of unusual lies. It's a fun test."

FALDO MEMORIES: Johnny Miller isn't the only one with fond memories of Royal Troon. Nick Faldo, a three-time champion who will be working on the Golf Channel part of the broadcast, said Troon is where he saw his first British Open.

"My dad drove me up," Faldo said. "In fact, my dad put me on his shoulders so I could see over the crowd - it was that long ago. I was on the back - some little, skinny kid - on the back of every tee."

He told Miller that he was his inspiration. If true, Miller had company. Faldo, who was 15 at the time, said he went to the range to watch Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Miller warming up.

"Copied your swings, and see what happens?" Faldo told Miller.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.