Golf Channel on NBC Lead Analyst Johnny Miller won the 1976 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale by six strokes over Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus. When he first went over to compete in The Open Championship, the biggest challenge was learning how to play a ground game on the course. He was very fortunate to have grown up at The Olympic Club which prepared for numerous challenges on the golf course. He made a double eagle during his first appearance in the 1971 Open Championship and he first fell in love with the golf in Great Britain when he was at BYU and playing in tournaments in Ireland and Scotland.
When he won the 1976 Open Championship, the ground was so firm that he played his shots around 20 yards short of the green and they would roll up onto the green. Seve Ballesteros was 19 years old in 1976 and swung hard just like Bubba Watson does now. Seve hit only four fairways during the final round and Johnny was kept in check by his caddie who told him that he needed to hit his 1-iron all day in order to just keep the ball in play. Most players were hitting 1-irons and 3-woods because the firmness of the course made hitting driver very risky. Looking back, he wishes that he were more disciplined on the course and had more people around him who pushed him in that direction.
You can look at Tiger Woods’ face to know when he is focused and means business on the course. In Major Championships, he always knows that he has work to do and he carries himself in a manner that says to everyone that he has serious work to do. When he was playing his best golf, he had a lot of fist pumps and smiles when he was hitting great shots. He has not been doing that as often lately because he has been focused on his swing changes but he seems to be getting close to returning to old levels of dominance.
When he was younger, he felt so confident about his ability that he felt that he could go out and win no matter when he teed it up. He went to tournaments feeling like he had more shots than anyone else and even when he didn’t, he would convince himself that he did and he was able to prove to himself on several occasions that he could separate himself from everyone else.
He is currently at his ranch in Wyoming spending some quiet time fishing but also watching The Open Championship. It would be monumental for an Englishman to win The Open Championship in the same way that it is monumental for an American to win the U.S. Open. It is a special experience every year to watch The Open Championship.
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