Johnny Miller Open and Honest
RL: Fair to say, Johnny, that you dont measure or plan your commentary?
JM: I absolutely have no clue I am on the air. Sometimes I have to remind myself, Dont say that! If you really analyze the way I announce, if I was on all the time I think it would be too much. I dont mean to be that way and Ive tried to be a little mellower, but I really dont try to do anything when Im on the air. I mean the perfect announcing syndrome for me is that I get so interested in whats going on that I dont even know Im announcing and thats probably why Im as candid as I am because in my mind Im not even on the air. Im just talking to you.
RL: Ill hear from players that Johnny never spends any time on the range or that Johnny never walks in the locker room or Johnny doesnt talk to me.
JM: The way I announce Im not going to be real chummy. The gallery loves my announcing. The people in the home like my announcing because they know they are getting the real truth. You know the one thing about me is that Ive never been a chummy guy. Hall of Fame players are not chummy guys. Ninety percent of Hall of Fame players are lone wolf-type guys. Tiger is not going to be walking into locker rooms and chumming with people, Trevino didnt, Floyd doesnt, Irwin doesnt and Nicklaus doesnt. I mean its just not in the makeup of a Hall of Fame player to be the regular chummy guy. Thats all there is to it.
RL: Are there things youve said that you later regretted?
JM: Oh, yeah. I would say in 16 years of announcing probably five were pretty blatant. You know saying, 'Craig Parrys swing would make Ben Hogan puke,' well I could have said, 'It would have made his stomach upset.'
RL: Was Tiger upset with your critiques of his swing?
JM: I know he doesnt love me.
RL: A lot of writers and broadcasters get un-nerved if theyve learned that Tiger doesnt like them.
JM: Ive tried to be fair with his career and what hes done. I was the first guy to say, You know the guys unbelievable with his guts. Hes got that quality that makes people wilt. Ive also said he doesnt drive it too well. Ive noticed the players hate it when I give them a lesson on national TV. Ill say, Watch Tiger; he squats his thighs down and then he pops his left shoulder up and the hip comes up and he blocks it right or flips it left. What am I supposed to say, Oh, well, its just a bad day?
RL: Tiger or Jack?
JM: Man, I think it would have been awfully close. Tiger had a big advantage with the chip shots around the green and the bunker shots. That one part of the game might be a little better than Jacks. I love Jack and we are good friends, but the short game of Tiger is like cheating. I mean, come on; hes phenomenal.
RL: Who had the stiffer competition?
JM: I always said if you put Tiger Woods on a lie detector test and asked, 'Have you been a little cheated by whats happened in the last round of your career by the competitors,' I really believe youd have to say hes been a little disappointed that guys have not pushed him a little more on Sunday. I think the Nicklaus era was the greatest in the history of golf. Vijay Singhs a phenomenal player and, of course, Ernie Els, and Furyks awfully good, and Mickelsons amazingly good, but I dont think they are quite as tough on Sunday as that group---the Floyds, the Irwins and the Watsons and even a Hubert Green.
RL: You had a memorable Sunday at Oakmont in 1973 with an incredible 63, yet you thought youd blown the U.S. Open with that Saturday 76?
JM: For sure; I thought I was done. But it was weird because as I was finishing my warm up I heard the clearest voice you could imagine telling me to open my stance way up and I was thinking, 'Why would I want to do that,' because Id never done it before. Still I thought Ill try it.
RL: So the lesson is, listen to the voices in your head?
JM: Yeah, I do it all the time. And it was sort of a magical round in that I felt that I was almost getting help. Every shot was going right where I was aiming it.
RL: It almost brings you to tears to talk about it.
JM: Well, it was sort of my career you know. I appreciate if somebody up there helped me and I think thats why it brings me a little bit to tears.
Great time. But thats competition. That was the fun of it.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner
Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.
At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.
Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.
In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.
Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.
Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.
Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.
''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.
''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''
Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.
''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.
''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''
Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.
Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.
''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''
Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.
Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.
''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''
The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.
''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''
The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.
''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'
Joel Dahmen had a 64.
''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.
''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.
''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''
He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.
''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.
Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.
''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.
Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.
Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.
Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.
Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence
NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.
Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.
Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.
“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”
Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.
With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.
“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.
Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.
Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season.
“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.
Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.
Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.
Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.
Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.
Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.
Nobody has ever swept all those awards.
There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.
“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”
Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.
The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.