Miller delivers high drama in Columbus

By June 5, 2012, 3:29 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio - In the waning light of golf's longest day, Dennis Miller had his moment in the sun.

Miller arrived on the 18th green at Scioto CC, on the fourth hole of a four-man playoff for three spots in the U.S. Open. The 42-year-old had hit a 330-yard drive to start his 40th hole of the day. His aggressive approach to back-right pin on the firm green had rolled to the back fringe.

In better shape than the remaining participants, Scott Piercy and Justin Hicks, Miller lined up his 25-foot birdie putt with the circa 1992 Maxfli Tad Moore putter he put in the bag on Monday morning.

Miller struck the putt. The pace was perfect. The line was true. It should have gone in, but it stopped on the edge of the cup. A collective groan came from the crowd of 75 around the green.

Maybe it was the rumble of noise, or a gust of wind, but as Miller walked head-down to his ball, it disappeared into the cup.

'I didn't even see it go in,' he said.

The crowd roared. Miller looked up to see his destiny and celebrated with fist pumps, smiles and unadulterated joy. After 12 attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open and seven times at sectionals, Miller was in the U.S. Open.

As he walked off the green, the gallery walked up to shake his hand, pat him on the back and wish him well. One of us had gotten into the U.S. Open. It was time for every man to celebrate the everyman.

Miller made the trek from Youngstown, Ohio, where he has been the director of golf for Mill Creek Metro Parks for the last dozen years. Friend Kirk Hough accompanied Miller to be on the bag, as he has for tournaments during Miller's entire stint in his current job.

At 6:15 a.m., Miller arrived to Scioto CC - a course he had never seen - as the third alternate in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier. About 35 minutes later, tournament officials told Miller he was in the 7:50 a.m. tee time from Scioto's first hole. David Hearn had withdrawn.

With just 20 strokes with his new putter under his belt, Miller hit the tee box. Just around 6 p.m., he arrived at the scoring table at the Scarlet Course of the Ohio State University Golf Club at even-par 141.

Scores were updated on both sites only in nine-hole intervals. At that time, more than 20 players were a 1 under or better. Miller thought he had failed again.

'That number is the worst possible number for me,' Miller said to Hough after looking at the scoreboard.

The number, like the berth-clinching putt, turned out to be just right.

Clearly nervous as the playoff began back at Scioto’s par-3 ninth, Miller made a routine par at the first hole of sudden death. He sank a six-foot par putt at the second hole to stay alive after first alternate Morgan Hoffmann made birdie to lock up the first of the three spots.

His luck seemed to run out, however, at the third playoff hole, the downhill par-3 17th. Miller found the back bunker, where his ball came to rest just in front of a rock. The explosion shot imparted no spin on the ball. With 15 feet for par, Miller poured it right in the heart. Fitting.

The final hole was played flawlessly. He was long of the tee, aggressive with his approach and had the deftest of touch with his putt.

Hough knew the window was closing on his friend to realize a dream. The window was open just enough.

'He's like a good wine,' Hough said. 'He gets better with age.'

Miller is San Francisco-bound, but he was already heading to the Golden State this month. He had intended to go to the Monterey Peninsula on June 20 to prepare for the PGA Professional National Championship.  Now he can extend his stay in the Bay Area.

Hough will be on the bag in the Open, able to collect a small caddie stipend if Miller can make the cut.

'I'll take whatever he wants to give me,' Hough said with a smile.

Miller gives plenty. He has worked tirelessly to expand the junior golf program back in Youngstown, sacrificing time with his wife and five-year-old son, Nathan.

This good guy didn't finish first. But, in this case, 15th was just as rewarding.

'This is as close to 'Tin Cup' as it gets,' Hough said.

Hollywood isn't all that far away from Olympic Club.

In four years, Scioto CC will host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open. Unfortunately, Miller will not yet be old enough to compete with the 50-plus set. A Scioto member helping run the event seemed more than accommodative as he said, 'Maybe we'll have to do it again.'

If only every tournament could end this way.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1