Fryed and Frazzled

By October 6, 2011, 4:00 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods is making his ninth PGA Tour start of the season at the Frys.com Open. He's grouped with amateur Patrick Cantlay and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. NBCSports.com writer Ryan Ballengee is at CordeValle Golf Club and is tracking Woods' every move during Day 1:

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8:15 p.m. ET: At the finishing hole, Woods took driver for the 12th time on the round. He hit his fifth fairway with it and his approach from there to 12 feet. Like so many strokes on the day, however, Woods burned the edged and missed the putt. Woods shoots 2-over 73 with a putting day he described to Roger Maltbie as 'the worst putting day of (his) life.' He is six shots back of Brendan Steele, Briny Baird, Garrett Willis and Matt Bettencourt. (2 over thru 18)

7:48 p.m. ET: Perhaps the Tour will move up the tee this weekend at the short par-4 17th to recapture the final-round drama there last year. But Tiger Woods may not be around to find out. He laid up into the 17th fairway and Woods' birdie bid was nowhere near the cup – misread on break and pace. A par leaves him 2 over. (2 over thru 17)

7:35 p.m. ET: Woods' misses on the day have been predominantly left, but at 14 and again at the par-3 16th, they were to the right. Going long of the green, Tiger's pitch again left him in the testy range of a half-dozen feet. After circling the entire perimeter of the cup, Woods' par putt dropped. Even with the ball underground, Woods looked at the hole and his putter with the combined look of disbelief and tempered disappointment. (2 over thru 16)

7:26 p.m. ET: Perhaps the most complete hole for Woods since the first, Tiger hit a perfect tee shot to the par-5 15th. With the green light to go for the under-GIR, Woods landed shy of the green with a tough uphill chip to a tucked pin. Woods continues to execute with proficiency with the wedges. For a second straight hole, Woods makes a 6-footer – this time for birdie. To this point, it had been the short ones for birdie that had eluded Woods. (2 over thru 15)

7:00 p.m. ET: Make it a half-dozen bunkers for Woods through 14 holes. Though the rain has slowed, it is wet and getting colder. The trio drove their balls in the same fairway bunker to the right on the par-4 14th, some 240 yards from the tee. Woods missed the green and his chip scooted by longer than he had hoped, but finally made a 6-footer – this time for par. (3 over thru 14)

6:42 p.m. ET: Perhaps Tiger Woods is taking a page from the NFL. At this pace, Woods will have no problem making the Stanford game on Saturday. The Suck for Luck campaign might be in play. Woods is 109th in the 132-man field after a par at the 13th hole. He was 116th after two rounds of the PGA Championship. (3 over thru 13)

6:25 p.m. ET: The rain has increased substantially, now at a downpour pace. With an aggressiveness perhaps born out of frustration, Woods pulled his drive left and into the red stake hazard. Woods was forced to go backward some 120 yards and take a drop. Woods gave up two shots with a double bogey at the 12th, leaving Woods near the bottom of the field. (3 over thru 12)

5:59 p.m. ET: As the clouds roll in for the second storm of the afternoon, Woods seemed to feed off of the par save at 10. A low, boring draw at the 236-yard par-3 11th yielded his best birdie chance since No. 1. Like the ninth, however, the standard bearer needn't change his board thanks to a short miss. Another par for Woods at 11. (1 over thru 11)

5:48 p.m. ET: Through 10 holes, Woods has been in half as many bunkers. He found himself in the left bunker off the tee and came up short of the green with his second. Grinding the most since the fifth hole over his bid to get up-and-down, it pays off for Tiger and he pars No. 10. (1 over thru 10)

5:33 p.m. ET: On each of the last two holes, a member of the gallery has made a comment that Woods is not playing golf like the golden days. A pushed birdie attempt that didn't even hit the hole at the par-5 ninth might confirm what the fans are saying. Woods makes the turn at 1 over and dead last in his group, but in a speedy 2 hours, 15 minutes. (1 over thru 9)

5:12 p.m. ET: After his best drive of the day and leaving a perfect angle to the green, Woods hit a disappointing approach that was downhill with an 8-iron. After the shot, Woods stared toward the hills and then at the ground with disbelief. He ended up making par on the hole. (1 over thru 8)

4:55 p.m. ET: The shortish par-3 seventh featured a putt-putt pin over a little hill, inaccessible without a bold shot to challenge the back of the green. None of the three had the gumption and none were able to get their first putt to the hole. (1 over thru 7)

4:46 p.m. ET: The scene has the feel of a U.S. Amateur final match - modest crowd, not much noise. CordeValle is dead silent for the most part, which is odd to have it set in a valley to echo noise. 

4:42 p.m. ET: Woods mistook CordeValle's sixth hole for a beach off the tee. Hard not to sympathize since it is simultaneously sunny and spitting rain, with 15-degree temperature swings common. He's 3 down to the world's top amateur after three consecutive pars. (1 over thru 6)

4:24 p.m. ET: 'Definitely a pop-up.' That's what Roger Maltbie said of Woods' tee shot at the fifth. Woods took an enormous divot with a fairways wood off the tee and was nearly a full wedge behind his playing partners. He still managed to make par. (1 over thru 5)

4:09 p.m. ET: Despite his worst drive of the short round, Woods has his first number on the card without a shape around it. Woods' chipping is on point, and he has not had a putt longer than 5 feet so far. He's 4 of 5 from short range. (1 over thru 4)

3:58 p.m. ET: As rain falls light and steady, the crowd murmurs about the weather and Woods' third straight errant tee shot. Woods is fading early, not showing much fine tuning. 

3:51 p.m. ET: The green at the par-3 third has a ridge back right that can funnel a tee shot to the left pin location. Woods did not use it and took the more aggressive route to the hole. He didn't execute his tee shot and paid the price. After missing the green and chipping up, his par putt horseshoed out. (1 over thru 3)

3:41 p.m. ET: Woods hit into 22 bunkers at the PGA Championship, including 14 in the first round. He found two in a row at the second hole today, double-dipping once greenside on his way to a bogey. (Even thru 2)

3:24 p.m. ET: Woods opened flawlessly to a crowd lining the first hole. To an airborne shout of 'Get in the hole!', Woods hit a confident, low short-iron to gimme range. He made the birdie putt. (1 under thru 1)

2:58 p.m. ET: Woods is mixing practice with pleasure, catching up with Chris Riley and Paul Casey - the highest-ranked player in the field - while putting. No half-mallet for Woods. He's using the Nike Method similar to his beloved Scotty Cameron.

2:50 p.m. ET: Expecting cool conditions in the valley, Woods is wearing a white turtleneck, navy blue vest and the Nike prototype shoes he has donned since Firestone. New caddie Joe LaCava is decked out in Nike garb as well.

2:45 p.m. ET: Woods just walked off the driving range at CordeValle, followed by a throng of about 100 people. He headed from the range, nestled in the property's surrounding hillside, to the practice green.

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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."