But his nearly-two-decade run of being the voice of the event for NBC will come to an end after the 2014 edition at Pinehurst thanks to Fox's new deal with the USGA. A month after that announcement was made, Miller seemed like he's still getting over it.
"It's something that's pretty sad for me," he said during a conference call previewing the final two FedEx Cup Playoff events. "My whole year, the U.S. Open was always my championship and it's what I was groomed to do, to play; growing up at Olympic Club and Pebble Beach, and I just always got up for the Open and loved it. But, I'll still love it. I just won't be covering it."
Miller sounded like a person being forced into giving up a beloved pet. He'll miss the tournament, but ultimately, he wants it to have a great life.
"All of us put our heart and soul into it," Miller said. "So I just hope that Fox does the same . . . I absolutely wish them the best. It's such a great championship."
As for his job, Miller, 66, remained non-committal about how much of any golf he'll cover when his contract with NBC runs out at the end of 2015. He's scheduled to work 13 events next year and 10 in 2015, the first year of Fox broadcasting the U.S. Open.
"It's not going to really impact my decision on what I do as an announcer," Miller said of NBC losing the U.S. Open. "I really don't know what NBC/Golf Channel has in store for me after two years. I would think they are starting to think about grooming a new Johnny Miller-type announcer but I don't know who it is, and I'll probably do some things, I just don't know how much. We'll just have to see."
Did he really say "a new Johnny Miller-type announcer"? Classic Johnny. Good luck with that, NBC.
We all know who won golf's major championships in 2013, but there's still a lot to be learned from sifting through the stats from the game's four marquee events. How much did distance matter? Did anyone gain an edge from accuracy off the tee? Was greens hit in regulation or how players fared when they missed greens a better indicator of success?
Thanks to our new interactive tool, you can sort through the data yourself to get a better understanding of why the leader boards turned out the way they did. For instance, everyone focused on Jason Dufner's performance from tee to green at the PGA Championship, but did you know a big part of why he took home the Wanamaker Trophy was because he led the field at Oak Hill in scrambling?
A cold putter was a big reason why Woods didn't win a major in 2013.
Did you know that only 13 players made the cut in all four majors? Did you know that Martin Kaymer was one of those players? How did Jason Day tie for the lowest score in relation to par and not collect a first major trophy?
And what about Tiger Woods? The World No. 1 has five tour wins in 2013, yet his drought in majors grew to five years. The 14-time major champion didn't excel in any of the statistical categories we tracked. And while a wayward driver got most of the attention from his critics, it was the shortest club in his bag that really let him down.
"David Hill has reached out to me, we have spoken and yes, they have offered me the job," Norman confirmed in an email sent from his home in Florida. "I am flattered to have been asked and I look forward to having discussions with my good friend (Hill) in the very near future."
Hill, senior vice president for News Corp., ran Fox Sports Media Group before moving over recently to manage "American Idol" and the "X Factor" for the network.
The Norman-Fox pairing, which still hinges on negotiations over the next few months, has been two decades in the making. In 1994, Norman, then the No. 1 player in the world, negotiated a deal with Fox to broadcast his concept of a World Tour. That idea was stonewalled by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, causing a rift between the tour and the star that still exists.
The analyst job at Fox would be a perfect fit for Norman -- if he can agree to terms. Given his various business interests, the two-time British Open champion isn't looking for the type of schedule Miller has now with NBC, but the one-week showcase would give him a highly-visible platform. Based on the reported $100 million a year Fox offered to outbid NBC, the network is likely to make the role worth Norman's time.
As a voice in the game, Norman has already shown he can follow in Miller's footsteps calling out players. He has been extremely critical of Tiger Woods and has also been outspoken about more transparency in golf's drug testing policy. But the U.S. Open, which drew a final-day audience of 8.4 million viewers this year, would provide Norman his biggest forum to date.
The story of the day was Oak Hill Country Club on Friday, not for baring its teeth, but for losing them. That, at least, was CBS' David Feherty's explanation.
"I was expecting Oak Hill to be a ferocious, elderly place, but it's like an old lady who's lost her teeth and is sort of searching for them," Feherty said during his stint on TNT's telecast of the second round of the PGA Championship.
Overnight rain and a steady downpour Friday morning softened the course to the point that Jason Dufner erased a competitive course record of 64 that was set by Ben Hogan in the Times-Union Open in 1942 and matched by Curtis Strange in the '89 U.S. Open and Webb Simpson Thursday morning. Dufner shot 63 and even left a birdie putt short at 18 for 62.
"It's the opposite of the amateur game," Feherty said. "The longer this golf course gets the easier it plays for these players because it plays wider. These are very, very narrow fairways, but when the ball hits and stops and stops on the greens it just plays a great deal easier for them. Right now, Oak Hill is pretty benign."
It made for some low scoring and interesting viewing. Or, as the estimable Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest noted on Twitter, "As second days of majors go, this one is pretty darn good."
Feherty was amused at Jason Dufner's reaction when his approach shot at the second hole spun back and into the cup for eagle. Dufner, who always appears as though he could use a shot of Jim Furyk's 5-Hour Energy, displayed little more than a hint of a smile.
"That's Jason Dufner going mental," Feherty said.
"I think Steve Stricker was a little happier about that than Jason Dufner was," Ian Baker-Finch said of Dufner's playing partner.
Peter Kostis won't be working the CBS telecast of the PGA Championship this week as he continues his recovery from surgery for colon cancer. Still, it doesn't mean that he isn't providing his insights, only that he is doing so via the written, rather than the spoken, word, via Twitter.
"Today, for whatever reason, Tiger is struggling to match up his arms and body. His body is out in front making timing difficult," Kostis wrote.
Kostis also identified an annoying problem, the sluggish speed of PGA.com and its leaderboard.
"The PGA website is a metaphor for golf's slow play problem!" he wrote.
And this: "PGA should have Shotlink this week. The website is painful and slow. There's not much 'live' about it."
Scott's coming of age
Scott turned pro in 2000, a year in which Tiger Woods dominated golf. Scott's swing has often been compared to Woods' swing, circa 2000, yet he hadn't won a major championship until the Masters this year. Now he's in contention for a second major. What has changed?
"In the last decade or 15 years, we've seen a number of great golf swings that didn't necessarily produce consistent results, didn't necessarily produce great ball striking," Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said. "And I think the difference is the tension that you see in those great golf swings because, it seems, that is the goal to those players, to make that great golf swing. When you watch Adam Scott, you don't get the sense that he's trying to make a great golf swing. It's the golf shot that's more important to him. And that's really what's unlocked all of this improvement in major championships is his ball flight."
Good call, Finchie
Moments before Tiger Woods' five-foot birdie attempt at the 14th hole, Baker-Finch noted a conversation he had with Craig Harmon, Oak Hill's pro for 41 years. "these greens just don't break quite as much as you think. And we've seen that a lot."
Woods played the putt on the left edge and missed. "Just like that," Baker-Finch said. "That was a straight putt and he hit it where we all though, inside left edge and it was dead straight."
Telecasts of United States Golf Association events, a staple of NBC Sports' golf coverage since 1995, will move to Fox Sports in 2015, the first of a 12-year multi-media contract, the network and the USGA announced Wednesday.
The Fox network and Fox Sports 1 will become "the domestic media partner" of the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women's Open, the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur and other USGA championships, the parties said.
"This is an exciting and remarkable day for the USGA, as our partnership with Fox Sports is a game-changer for our organization and for the game of golf," USGA president Glen Nager said in a news release. "The game is evolving and requires bold and unique approaches on many levels, and Fox shares our vision to seek fresh thinking and innovative ideas to deliver championship golf. This partnership will help us to better lead and serve the game in new and exciting ways."
A minimum of 70 hours of live coverage of the USGA's three Opens is part of the agreement. The agreement also includes inclusion of USGA events on a mobile app, Fox Sports Go, that will launch soon.
"It was a big bummer," NBC's lead analyst Johnny Miller told The Associated Press from his home in Utah. "For some reason, I told Dan Hicks at the U.S. Open this year, 'I don't think we're going to keep the U.S. Open.' I just had a hunch it would be ESPN or Fox that stepped in and made a high bid. I know we tried.
"I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew."
In January of 2005, the USGA and NBC announced a six-year extension of its contract that was due to expire at the end of 2008. At the time, Dick Ebersol, then the chairman of NBC Universal Sports, said the contract extension "ratifies one of the great broadcast partnerships in all of sport and extends our commitment to the USGA and its championships."SGA Executive Director Mike Davis said the new partnership with Fox "represents a promising new future for both organizations that will be marked by broadcast innovation, new approaches and fresh thinking. We could not be more energized by what we will be able to accomplish together to make golf better, both now and for future generations of players and fans who love the game."
Rose headed across the Atlantic on Sunday to start his Open Championship preparations. Pictured are British Airways pilot captain Greig Law and first-officer Francis Gray.
Any time you're flying with a major championship trophy with your name on it, you're
doing something right.
That's what Justin Rose did on Sunday night, as he left
Orlando to head back to the United Kingdom to prepare for this month's
Open Championship at Muirfield.
Rose has remained stateside since firing at Merion's wicker-basket
flagsticks three weeks ago, first touring some U.S. talk shows and then
honoring his commitment to play in the Travelers Championship the
Will Rose contend at Muirfield? Odds are, he will. We haven't had a
repeat major champion since Padraig Harrington won the British Open and PGA Championship in less than a month span in 2008. So maybe we're
due for one.
Rory McIlroy isn't the only high-profile European golfer making a mid-season management change. Sources confirm U.S. Open champion Justin Rose will be making the switch to Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg.
(Photo by Getty Images)
This is big news not only for Rose, but Steinberg. Since leaving IMG in July 2011, the agent has assembled an impressive client list for Excel Sports Management in Matt Kuchar and now Rose, the newest major champion. That gives Steinberg the current Nos. 1, 3 and 5 in the world.
Rose had been represented by Marcus Day of 4Sports & Entertainment. Industry sources knew Rose was talking to Steinberg three weeks ago at the Memorial. They had a private discussion on the putting green prior to the opening round.
The marketability of Rose has skyrocketed after his win at Merion, especially in the humble, gentlemanly image he cast as a newly minted champion. The British accent also doesn't hurt and neither does his charity work, most noticeably with "Blessings in a Backpack" through the Kate and Justin Rose Foundation.
His U.S. resume is equally impressive, with victories hosted by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods (the Memorial and AT&T National in 2010), a FedEx Cup playoff event (the BMW Championship in 2011), a World Golf Championship event (Cadillac Championship in 2012) and now his crowning achievement, the U.S. Open. He also has a tremendous reputation with the media, especially the golf press, for being both accommodating and genuine in his interviews.
Rose, 32, is a TaylorMade staff player, but has been in a secondary commercial role to Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia. That should change, along with his entire profile. He is one of Zurich's golf ambassadors, has a clothing contract with Ashworth, wears the British Airways logo and has deals with Adidas Eyewear, Jumeriah Golf Estates and Goodwood, a privately-owned 12,000-acre estate in the heart of West Sussex, England. He is based at Lake Nona GC in Orlando.
Cromwell, Conn. -- Merion may be the new favorite course of Justin Rose, who's busy making the rounds on the late night talk shows after his U.S. Open victory, but inside the ropes, it seems the topic of returning to the legendary course isn't a popular one.
Speaking at the Travelers Championship on Tuesday, a number of PGA Tour pros said they wouldn't like to see Merion GC host another national championship in the future because it lacks the infrastructure needed to host such a large-scale event.
(Photo by Getty Images)
The logistics of holding the event at Merion had been a major concern in the lead-up to the tournament. The wrinkles included a 20-minute shuttle ride from the practice range to the first tee and both player's registration and hospitality centers hosted in nearby houses.
"No," said Charley Hoffman, who finished T-45 at the U.S. Open at +15, when asked if he'd like to see Merion host another U.S. Open. "It had horrible logistics, the gallery was very restricted, but I guess that's what happens when an organization runs a golf tournament."
Hoffman added that he didn't mind the course setup, but said the site just wasn't equipped to hold a U.S. Open, a thought echoed by Nicholas Thompson:
"We went from Olympic, which was as smooth as a tournament could be, to Merion, which was just difficult," Thompson said, who finished T-56. "It's a great golf course . . . but there are no hotels near the course and there's only one road leading to the course, so in the back of your mind you're always thinking, 'Am I going to catch traffic and be late for my tee time?'"
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who shot 74, 77 to miss the cut, stirred controversy after he said the USGA "manipulated" the course. He said that while he "loved" Merion because of its history and emphasis on accuracy, he also acknowledged logistics were a problem.
"It's not ideal," he said, "but I would love to see something hosted there. Maybe not a U.S. Open, but something, because it's such a great course."
But not every pro was willing to take up arms against one of the game's most storied venues.
Nicolas Colsaerts, who finished T-10, said he didn't have any complaints because he felt lucky just to play in the U.S. Open. Jason Dufner, whose final round 67 shot him up the leaderboard into a T-4, took a different approach altogether:
"Probably doesn't make much of a difference for me," he said. "The USGA works on a 10 to 15 year rotation, so I'm not sure I'll be playing in another U.S. Open in 15 years."
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where the next person who mentions Merion's wicker baskets risks being beaten with one of Merion's wicker baskets. Seriously, it was fun while it lasted, but all this attention might give other clubs ideas. What's next? Birdhouses on top of flagsticks? Car tires? Wicker chairs? Probably not, but if it ever happens, NBC and Jimmy Roberts will have a field day. In the meantime, here's what we're focusing on.
Justin Rose: A 32-year-old who was once a teen phenom breaking through to win his first major? Hmm. We think we've heard that one recently. . . There was a joke going around after the FedEx St. Jude Classic that the only English winner on the PGA Tour in 2013 was Harris English. Not anymore. What a performance by Rose at the U.S. Open, especially considering he'd never seriously contended down the stretch at a major before.
It was good to see Phil hasn't lost any of his hops. (Photo: Getty Images)
The U.S. Open: The course. The carnage. The NBC theme music. The star-studded leader board. The finish. Johnny Miller saying, "Chunk and run" every two minutes. Our favorite week of the year delivered in grand fashion.
Jason Day: Who says Jack Nicklaus' major record is safe? Day is just 25 and seems on pace to challenge the Golden Bear's mark of 19 runner-ups with his latest T-2 at the U.S. Open. Add a third-place finish at Augusta already this year and the question must be asked: Why isn't this guy contending more in regular PGA Tour events?
Phil Mickelson: Let's focus on the positive. In the last two weeks, Phil has two T-2s that bookend him seeing his daughter, Amanda, graduate from middle school. Apparently, she even gave a speech at the ceremony in which she quoted Ron Burgundy from the movie "Anchorman". What a proud papa he must be! Yes, adding to his record of runner-ups at the U.S. Open stings, but obviously, you can't have this many close calls without being a great player. That being said. . .
Phil Mickelson: I thought I had our office pool wrapped up with Jason Dufner's Sunday run and Mickelson's Miracle-at-Merion holeout for eagle on No. 10 to take the lead. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. Finishing runner-up is tough. I'll be thinking about that close call for awhile. What, you thought I was talking about Phil?
Steve Stricker: SHANKAPOTAMUS!!! Seriously, that train wreck was painful to watch. A U.S. course is tough enough, but under Sunday pressure, Stricker reminded us that even the world's best players are susceptible to weekend hacker moments. The shank OB on No. 2 virtually ended the 46-year-old's (last?) golden opportunity to win a first major. And he's already snuffed out his next chance by saying he won't play in next month's British Open. Disappointing.
Players complaining: The rough is too thick. The hole placements are too tough. The par 3s are too long. Wah. Wah. Wah. Guys, the U.S. Open is one week out of the year. Is it difficult? Sure. But there's a difference between setting up a challenging course and an unfair one. Players who hit bad shots paid the price, but players who hit good shots were rewarded. And oh yeah, enough about what par is. Everyone played the same holes and added their scores up at the end of the day the same way: 281 won this tournament, not one over.
Tiger Woods:. When Tiger won his 14th major at Torrey Pines in 2008, what odds could you have gotten that he would go (at least) the next five years without winning another big one? 1,000 to 1? 10,000 to 1? Elbow injury or not, it's getting tough to explain Tiger's disappearing acts in golf's biggest events. Even tougher is explaining why he chipped and putted at Merion like a mid-handicapper. But never fear, Woods will still be made an overwhelming favorite for Muirfield by experts like us!
The PGA Tour heads to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship, aka that tournament they usually play after the U.S. Open. We have a lot of respect for Rose, who kept his commitment to playing this week instead of taking a vacation in the mountains of cash he earned himself with his first major championship. Actually, we have a lot of respect for anyone who competed in that grindfest teeing it up again so soon.
Random tournament fact: Tim Norris owns the best score in relation to par with a 25-under performance in 1982. He's so obscure we're not even sure Google has heard of him.
WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP
The day before the tournament, I talked to Rose about mudballs as he signed autographs. When our chat was over -- he did a tremendous job multi-tasking -- I thanked him for his time, patted him on the shoulder and wished him good luck. Maybe I'm not such a jinx after all. . .
Starters -- (A-List): Jason Dufner: Did you see the ball-striking display this guy put on at Merion on Sunday?!
(B-List): Bo Van Pelt: BVP has finished in the top 25 at TPC River Highlands six of the past eight years.
(B-List): Fredrik Jacobson: The site of his lone PGA Tour win in 2011, the Swede finished T-8 in his title defense last year.
(C-List): Rickie Fowler: After a respectable showing at Merion, we think the time has come for Fowler to pick up that second PGA Tour title.
Bench -- Bubba Watson, Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson and Kevin Streelman.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
In honor of Pinehurst, the site of next year's U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open, we present this frisbee golf video the resort sent me. In it, Ken Climo, who is apparently the 'Jack Nicklaus of Disc Golf,' takes on the famed No. 2 course:
It also gives us a chance to link to this classic Seinfeld clip in which George Costanza chooses 'Frolf' over helping out Jerry.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- A player will hit a driver on one of TPC Highland's par 3s this week: 1,000-to-1 odds
-- Sergio Garcia will have nightmares about the Philly fans at Merion: 5-to-1 odds
-- Sergio Garcia will have nightmares about Merion's 15th hole: LOCK
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY DISPLAYS OF PUBLIC AFFECTION
Unfortunately, we didn't cross paths with Paulina at Merion. We're guessing she's not a fan of walking around in the mud. But we do know that she and DJ are still an item thanks to this tweeted photo of the two of them kissing their dog goodbye before heading off to Germany:
BAD JOKE ALERT: Apparently, DJ likes big dogs both on and off the course!