He Said/She Said: Sin City? Let's roll the dice

By Golf GuySeptember 30, 2011, 3:19 am

While The Golf Guy and 'Birdie' Bailey Mosier can argue opposing sides of most topics, on Las Vegas they simply must agree – the Entertainment Capital of the World has it all. In this edition of He Said/She Said, they share their perfect Vegas weekend in light of this week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

By The Golf Guy

I’m going to Vegas to spend the week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open? And I need to have a game plan? Well, let me count the ways ...

First off, let it be known that I love Vegas. Yet at the same time let it be known that I hate Vegas. Actually, the hatred is more like I’m scared of Vegas. A city that has based its reputation on the slogan, 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,' doesn’t seem to realize that anything strange or very unusual that happens there will unfortunately stay in your own mind. So that slogan just isn’t that comforting.

That said, going to Vegas for a golf tournament can actually help anyone keep the stupidity level to a minimum. Why? Because golf is a 'gentleman’s game,' one that offers up the 'golf clap,' and a sport that requires people to call penalties on themselves. Possible case in point: “Man, you are one hot babe, would you like to come back to my room and do some night putting?” Right then and there, you realize you are a golfer and quickly call a two-stroke penalty on yourself and let the lady play through and not bother her anymore.

As for a Sin City itinerary the week of the JT SHO, this is The Golf Guy’s fool-proof plan:

• Play some golf at Bali Hai. The location and convenience is hard to beat – right on the strip. It’s a beautiful course, and if you can handle airplane noise – and unfortunately there is a lot of it – you will save yourself plenty of time in having to drive to many of the courses far from the strip.

• This is a must: the Bellagio water show. That might sound strange coming from The Golf Guy, but hearing Andrea Bocelli sing 'Time to say goodbye' to the amazing water show warms my heart. Much like standing on a tee box during a late afternoon round with good friends, with the sun going down and the shadows stretching over the fairway.

• Wanna see a Vegas show? Well, do me a favor and skip all the foolishness and just go to a comedy show. There’s always a big-name comic in town and it’s always worth the salty price of admission. There are options as well. My favorite when it comes to affordability? George Wallace at the Flamingo. He’s freaking hilarious.

• Spend at least a few hours playing the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. I used to think slot machines were for water show-watching sissies, but this slot machine is highly addictive. Let’s just say, when you finally win a free spin of the wheel, and you hear ‘Wheel … of … Fortune,” blaring out the speakers, you can’t help but get completely giddy.

• I know most of you are waiting for me to suggest going to a gentleman’s club. My friends tell me it can be fun. But I wouldn’t know. OK, I’m lying. It is fun. And weird. Well, kinda like Vegas as a whole.

• Oh, last thing: Go to the actual Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Like the title sponsor suggests, the least you can do is drag your hungover self out to the course and help support a wonderful cause. And it's a perfect 'killing two birds with one stone' situation: You help a worthy charity and you can start getting your base on for the ensuing wild evening.

By 'Birdie' Bailey Mosier

You can’t go wrong with Vegas. Take it from the girl who grew up there – yours truly – it really does have all the glam, glitz and appeal you think it does.

I often get asked the question, “What was it like growing up in Vegas?” to which I respond the same way every time: “It’s just as much fun as you imagine it to be.”

Vegas has it all. Warm weather, great golf and good-looking cart girls. Food, flair and nightlife. Shows, casinos and shopping. Anything you want at any hour of the day.

Whether you live there or you’re lucky enough to be visiting this week for the PGA Tour stop – the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open – you’re guaranteed to leave happy even if you leave empty-handed.

So what would 'Birdie' do if she were there this weekend to take in the fun and the sun? Let me share some local knowledge on all the best Las Vegas has to offer.

Golf: I would certainly head out to TPC Summerlin to catch some of the PGA Tour action. Walk the course and get some exercise, or find some shade and pop open a beer as you watch the world’s finest go low at the TPC. If you can sneak in a round or two of your own, my recommendations are Rio Secco – a Rees Jones design – and any one of the three courses at the Paiute Indian Reservation located northwest of the strip. I've grazed many fairways of the 100-plus golf courses in Vegas, and Rio Secco and Paiute top my list every time.

Eats: The best steak I’ve ever had was at the SW Steakhouse inside the Wynn. Pricey, by some standards, but you’re in Vegas for Pete’s sake. Splurge. Trust me, this is one meal you won’t regret.

Drinks: They don’t call it the 'coolest' bar on the strip by accident. The Minus 5 bar located inside the Mandalay Bay is one of my favorite spots. You enter what is essentially a giant freezer where the temperature is kept at minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) and are given coats and mittens to help withstand the chill. It’s a fun change of pace to your otherwise typical loud, crazy bar scene and it’s worth trying at least once.

Shopping: Yes, I had to throw this one in for all the ladies and, whether you know it or not, for all you men out there, too. The Fashion Show Mall off of Las Vegas Blvd. and Spring Mountain has every store you could possibly dream up. From designer labels to feel-good brands, this mall will keep the ladies occupied for hours and will give the men some time to themselves. Which brings me to …

Gambling: Another question I get asked all the time is whether or not people who live in Vegas gamble all the time. The answer is no. Not all the time. We have jobs and other hobbies, too. But when the occasion calls for gambling, the must-play game for me is craps. I love the energy and excitement of getting an entire table full of people involved. It’s true you can lose big and lose quickly at the craps table, but when it’s hot, there’s no greater gamble.

I could go on and on about all the gems Las Vegas holds, but instead I may go pack my suitcase and head to the City of Sin. It’s been far too long since this West Coast girl painted that town red. 

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."

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Love him or not, Miller's authentic style stood out

By Doug FergusonOctober 16, 2018, 10:11 pm

The comment was vintage Johnny Miller, raw enough to cause most television producers to wince.

Miller was in the NBC Sports booth at Doral in 2004 when he watched Craig Parry hit another beautiful shot to the green. Miller said what he saw. That was his job.

He just didn't say it like other golf analysts.

''The last time you see that swing is in a pro-am with a guy who's about a 15-handicap,'' Miller said. ''It's just over the top, cups it at the bottom and hits it unbelievably good. It doesn't look ... if Ben Hogan saw that, he'd puke.''

Parry got the last word, of course, holing out a 6-iron from 176 yards in a playoff to win.

Except that wasn't the last word.

''I was in Ponte Vedra going back to the Honda Classic, and my phone is blowing up,'' said Tommy Roy, the longtime golf producer at NBC. ''It started percolating down in Australia, and you had radio stations demanding Johnny Miller be fired.''

Miller could make golf more fun to hear than to watch.

''He doesn't have a filter. That's why he's so good,'' Roy said. ''What he's thinking comes out. And 99.5 percent of the time, that was a great thing for viewers, and for me. And 0.5 percent of the time, it was a problem for our PR department and for me.

''And it was worth it.''

Roy was in Wisconsin on Monday night for his first look at Whistling Straits for the 2020 Ryder Cup. It will be the first Ryder Cup since 1989 that doesn't have Miller in the booth weighing in on good shots and bad with thoughts that immediately become words.

He often entertained. He occasionally irritated. He was rarely dull.

Miller is retiring after three decades calling the shots for NBC. His last tournament will be the Phoenix Open, the perfect exit for a Hall of Fame player once known as the ''Desert Fox'' for winning six times in Arizona. Miller was so good for so long that it was easy for younger generations to forget about that other career he had.

Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

Best of: Photos of Miller through the years

And to think that was nearly his only career in golf.

Miller said he wasn't interested when NBC first approached him, but then his wife stepped in and told him it would be nice to have a steady paycheck. Even then, it took time for him to realize his audience was in the living room, not the locker room.

He made his debut at the Bob Hope Classic in 1990 and it didn't take long for him to leave his mark. Peter Jacobsen faced an awkward lie to the 18th green with water to the left.

''The easiest shot to choke on,'' Miller said.

People thought about choking. Miller said it because that's what he was thinking.

''What came into his brain came out of his mouth,'' said Mike McCarley, president of golf for NBC Sports. ''He was the first to really talk about the pressure. It's the most important element of the game, especially in those really big moments. He was doing it at a time when others weren't.''

It wasn't just the word ''choke.''

Phil Mickelson was getting up-and-down from everywhere at the 2010 Ryder Cup when Miller suggested that if Lefty weren't such a good putter he'd be selling cars in San Diego. Justin Leonard and Hal Sutton were losing a fourballs match at the 1999 Ryder Cup when Miller blurted out, ''My hunch is that Justin needs to go home and watch it on television.''

During the 2008 U.S. Open playoff at Torrey Pines that Tiger Woods won in 19 holes over Rocco Mediate, Miller suggested that guys named ''Rocco'' don't get their name on the trophy, and that Mediate looked like ''the guy who cleans Tiger's swimming pool.''

It wasn't all bad.

Roy, who also has produced NBA Finals and Olympics, said he wants analysts who first-guess, not second-guess. The latter is for talk radio. First-guessing means sharing instincts, and Miller had plenty of them.

Woods was playing the final hole at Newport in the 1995 U.S. Amateur when Miller said, ''It wouldn't surprise me if he knocked this thing a foot from the hole.''

And that's just what Woods did.

McCarley remembers how retired NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol used to worry whenever Miller called because he thought it was about retirement. McCarley soon inherited that feeling.

''Every time I'd see Johnny's number pop up on my cellphone, my heart would skip a beat,'' McCarley said. ''Two years ago, he made that call I had been dreading.''

McCarley kept him working a slightly reduced schedule, but no longer. Miller is 71 and has been on the road for 50 years. His 24th grandchild was born on Sunday. He wants to teach them fly fishing in Utah, perhaps even a little golf.

Miller wasn't sure he would last a week when he started. He never imagined going nearly 30 years.

He leaves behind a style all his own.

Most loved it. Some didn't. But everyone listened, and that might be his legacy in the broadcast booth. Roy said what he has heard from viewers he knows is that 70 percent really like Miller, and 30 percent really don't.

''But they all have an opinion,'' he said.

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CJ Cup: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 16, 2018, 9:20 pm

The PGA Tour returns to South Korea this week for the second edition of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. Here is the key information for the no-cut event, where Justin Thomas is defending champion.

Golf course: Located on Jeju Island, the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, The Club at Nine Bridges opened in 2001 and was designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale. The par-72 layout (36-36) will measure 7,184 yards for this week's event, 12 yards shorter than last year.

Purse: The total purse is $9.5 million with the winner receiving $1.71 million. In addition, the winner will receive 500 FedExCup points, a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and invitations to the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Players, Masters, and PGA Championship.

Last year: Thomas defeated Marc Leishman with a birdie on the second playoff hole to earn his seventh career PGA Tour win.

TV schedule (all times Eastern): Golf Channel, Wednesday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Live streamingWednesday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. 

Notable tee times (all times Eastern): 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. Thursday: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Sungjae Im; 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. Thursday: Marc Leishman, Si Woo Kim, Ernie Els; 8:25 p.m. Wednesday, 7:15 p.m. Thursday: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama

Notables in the field: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and last week's winner Marc Leishman.

Key stats:

 This is the third of 46 official events of the season and the second of three consecutive weeks of events in Asia

• 78-player field including the top 60 available from the final 2017-2018 FedExCup points list

The field also includes 12 major champions and two of the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking (highest ranked are No. 3 Koepka and No. 4 Thomas)

Thomas and Koepka both have a shot to ascend to No. 1 in the OWGR this week - they will play their first two rounds grouped together

Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit

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Els eyeing potential Prez Cup players at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:55 pm

Ernie Els is teeing it up this week in South Korea as a player, but he's also retaining the perspective of a captain.

While the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia is still more than a year away, Els has already begun the process of keeping tabs on potential players who could factor on his International squad that will face an American contingent captained by Tiger Woods. Els played in last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and this week received one of eight sponsor exemptions into the limited-field CJ Cup on Jeju Island.

Els played a Tuesday practice round with Presidents Cup veteran and Branden Grace and India's Shubankhar Sharma, who held a share of the 54-hole lead last week in Malaysia.

"It's going to be a very diverse team the way things are shaping up already," Els told reporters. "We've got another year to go, so we're going to have an interesting new group of players that's going to probably make the team."

In addition to keeping tabs on Grace and Sharma, Els will play the first two rounds with Australia's Marc Leishman and South Korea's Si Woo Kim. Then there's Sungjae Im, a native of Jeju Island who led the Web.com Tour money list wire-to-wire last season.

"There's so many Korean youngsters here this week, so I'm going to really see how they perform," Els said. "Still a long way to go, but these guys, the young guys are going to be really the core of our team."

Els, who will turn 49 on Wednesday, made only five cuts in 15 PGA Tour starts last season, with his best result a T-30 finish at the Valero Texas Open. While it's increasingly likely that his unexpected triumph at the 2012 Open will end up being his final worldwide victory, he's eager to tackle a new challenge in the coming months by putting together the squad that he hopes can end the International losing skid in the biennial matches.

"The U.S. team is a well-oiled team. They play Ryder Cups together, they obviously play very well in the Presidents Cups against us, so they're a very mature team," Els said. "We are going to be a young team, inexperienced. But that doesn't scare me because I know the course very well down in Melbourne, I've played it many, many times. I feel I have a very good game plan to play the golf course strategy-wise and I'm going to share that with my players."