Johnny Miller: 'Dream come true' to broadcast Open

By Doug FergusonJune 8, 2015, 9:40 pm

Johnny Miller can't wait to get back in the broadcast booth for a major championship where he won with a great closing round.

Only he will be at Royal Birkdale, not Oakmont.

Miller said Monday he was thrilled the R&A selected NBC Sports Group as its U.S. television partner for the British Open starting in 2017. NBC agreed to a 12-year deal, getting back to the majors and giving Golf Channel its first live coverage of a men's major on the weekday rounds.

NBC last year ended 20 years covering the U.S. Open when a 12-year deal was awarded to Fox Sports for about $1 billion.

For the NBC deal to start in 2017 at Royal Birkdale is ideal for Miller, who won the claret jug in 1976 at Birkdale by closing with a 66 to beat 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus.

''It's sort of a dream come true to cover Birkdale and the Open,'' Miller said during a break from a corporate outing. ''Obviously, it's not great that we lost the U.S. Open to Fox. This makes up for that. In some ways it's even better. It's another era. To get to do an Open at Birkdale is kind of a bucket list.''

The deal with NBC includes coverage across all media of the British Open, the Senior British Open, the British Amateur and the Walker Cup when it is played in Britain or Ireland. Coverage would be on NBC and Golf Channel in English, and NBC Universo in Spanish.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Golf Channel celebrated its 20-year anniversary in January, and president Mike McCarley said co-founder Arnold Palmer was ''like a new man'' when he shared the news.

No American has done more for golf's oldest championship than Palmer. At a time when American players found it not worth the time or expense, Palmer entered in 1960 at St. Andrews and first discussed the notion of a modern Grand Slam - the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

He was runner-up to Kel Nagle, then won in 1961 at Royal Birkdale and in 1962 at Royal Troon.

''You have the big-event nature of NBC Sports and the 24-7 dedication of the game from Golf Channel,'' McCarley said. ''Viewers can follow stories and get deeper into them, into the history of the championship or the venue.''

Alastair Johnston of IMG, who handled the negotiations for the R&A, said NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN made presentations in New York.

''The process became a lot more about relationships,'' he said. ''At the end of the day, these became essentially the PR machine for The Open Championship in this country.''

Miller, 68, said last fall he wanted to work at least through 2017 and possibly another year. He said he ran into R&A chief Peter Dawson three times at various spots in April, and while they didn't talk about the TV rights and he didn't think he had any influence, ''he could tell my enthusiasm was right up there.''

''The flavor and history ... there's something about the British that you feel like you're seeing an old-time movie,'' Miller said. ''You're seeing history being made. I loved playing the British. I could have won three of them. It's the world championship. In the U.S., we think the sun rises in New York and sets in California. The British is the world's championship.

''I love the U.S. Open. I was groomed to win the U.S. Open by playing Pebble Beach and Olympic,'' he said. ''But if you asked me the next two things I'd like to have done, it would be the Masters and the British.''

Miller is renowned for frequent mentions of the 63 he shot in the final round at Oakmont in 1973 to win the U.S. Open. He was the first player to shoot 63 in a major. Does this mean viewers should prepare to hear about his 66 at Royal Birkdale? Maybe not.

''I won both my majors with a great last round,'' Miller said. ''But I don't put the 66 up there with a 63.''

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''


Full-field scores from the Sanford International


Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Web.com Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Web.com Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”