Miller Back in the Booth


2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- The swaying palm trees, warm breeze and white bunkers that dot the landscape at Doral are signs that the PGA Tour is starting the Florida swing. The best indicator of all will be the voice heard on television.
Johnny Miller is back.
The most outspoken analyst in golf, Miller caused a stir last year during the final round of the Ford Championship at Doral when he said Craig Parry's swing was enough to 'make Ben Hogan puke.' Parry was so offended that he complained to the PGA Tour, but he probably had to get in line.
Miller called a poor chip by Tiger Woods three years ago 'the worst chili-dip I've ever seen.' In one of his more infamous observations at the '99 Ryder Cup, he said Justin Leonard should have stayed home.
A year later, all is forgiven.
'He apologized for what he said,' Parry said. 'He apologized in person. He apologizes every time I see him. Johnny is great. He understands the perspective of what a player is going through. Ninety percent of the time, he's probably right. And the 10 percent of the time he's not, he'll just say he messed up.'
Miller is in the booth with Dan Hicks for NBC Sports, which will televise the next five PGA Tour events through the BellSouth Classic. NBC has the fewest number of tour events among networks, with this stretch of five, the U.S. Open and the either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup in the fall.
It's a short but impressive lineup, and it has a voice that can intrigue, irritate and always entertain.
'As an announcer, I'm just being me,' Miller said during a conference call Wednesday. 'People get riled up over some things I say. Other people are entertained by it. I don't know how good I am.'
Miller said he has not seen so many stars rise to the top on tour since his glory days in the 1970s, when he was posting low scores in Arizona and winning as many eight times in one year (1974).
He said Woods could take off if he starts finding fairways, and he said Phil Mickelson has a better chance of challenging Woods than top-ranked Vijay Singh.
'Phil is the guy to beat,' Miller said. 'I think right now, Phil has got the major monkey off his back. He's happy with who he is. If I was analyzing it from experience, Vijay could have just climbed Mount Everest, and he could be tired, to be honest with you. It's like shooting 60; it's tough to follow it up the next day.'
Singh won nine times last year, rising to No. 1 in the world. He won the Sony Open in January, but missed the cut and was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship in his last two tournaments.
Miller once said that was one thing that distinguished him from Jack Nicklaus -- Miller climbed the mountain in the 1970s and wasn't sure what to do next; Nicklaus got to the top and looked for the next mountain.
Miller was asked the difference between his career as a player and a broadcaster.
'I was a little crazy on both accounts,' he said.
Not many would disagree.
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