By John Strege
The word with which Johnny Miller, broadcaster, is most closely associated went conspicuously missing at the Ryder Cup on Sunday, even as the U.S. team methodically unraveled, its insurmountable lead surmountable after all.
Miller never mentioned the word "choke," though the U.S. team squandered a 10-6 lead and lost 14 1/2-13 1/2. We can only surmise the criticism he has taken for using the word freely over the years has had an effect on him.
He flirted with the word, at least. "You could say this is the colossal collapse in Chicago," Miller said after Steve Stricker fell behind Martin Kaymer on the 17th hole in the penultimate match, putting the U.S. at a disadvantage. "America has played really poorly on the finishing holes today, which has allowed this to happen. It really is a collapse."
Mark Rolfing also ventured into the vicinity of the word, when after a poor bunker shot by Jim Furyk (shown above) in a tight match at the 17th hole he faced a 15-foot par putt to maintain a 1-up lead over Sergio Garcia.
"It's been a long summer for Jim Furyk in terms of finishing things off in big situations," Rolfing said.
Furyk missed the putt, then lost the 18th hole and the match.
Monty: 'Absolutely ridiculous'
Rory McIlroy was savaged for arriving at Medinah Country Club only 11 minutes prior to his Ryder Cup tee time on Sunday. Good thing for his sake he won his match against Keegan Bradley.
The outspoken Colin Montgomerie was most critical, eviscerating McIlroy as well as European captain Jose Maria Olazabal and his assistants and his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald.
"That's absolutely ridiculous on this level," Montgomerie said during his stint in the NBC booth. "Quite unbelievable...the world number one golfer. How this happened I do not know.
"Where's the captain? Where are the vice captains? Where's his caddie? We were fortunate that he's the one guy, the most natural player on our team, that didn't need to practice. If we had a Faldo or Langer we'd be in trouble."
NBC's Roger Maltbie, meanwhile, was waxing on how impressed he was that McIlroy arrived so late, yet "walked onto the first tee with a smile and went about his business."
"It was embarrassing though," Miller said.
"I wouldn't argue with that," Maltbie replied.
Shanks for the memory
It's no secret that Miller often invokes his own experiences in his analysis, but he had two prime opportunities to do so on Sunday and said nothing.
-- When Webb Simpson shanked his tee shot at the eighth hole, Miller said, "That was one of the fastest swings I think I've ever seen. That's a bad feeling when you've got national TV, Ryder Cup, all these fans, and to think, 'oh, am I going to do it again.' You hit with a shank and people never forget it."
He was speaking from experience, though he failed to inform the audience of that. In the 1972 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Miller was in contention on the 16th hole of the final round, when he shanked a shot. He went on to lose to Jack Nicklaus in a playoff.
-- Instructor Jim McLean, who counts Keegan Bradley among his students, posted this on Twitter regarding McIlroy's tardiness and inability to hit balls prior to the starting his round:
"A number of great players hit no balls prior to teeing off. One was Johnny Miller. Wonder if Johnny will mention this?"
He did not.
A graphic reminder
NBC put up a graphic showing those who have gone undefeated in Ryder Cups, and Larry Nelson appeared twice, once going 5-0, once 4-0.
It was a reminder of a glaring oversight on the PGA of America's part, that it never made Nelson a U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Nelson won two PGA Championships and a U.S. Open and played on three Ryder Cup teams.
Steve Flesch: "I still can't help but to think how big a mistake it was sitting Phil and Keegan yesterday. Every point matters. Strick and Tiger 1-7"
Michelle Wie: "Watching the tv while covering my eyes. I cant watch this....so nervous!! #rydercup #gousa"