By John Strege
Twenty years ago today, Johnny Miller produced one of the unlikeliest of victories in PGA Tour history, but one that reaffirmed how good he really was and how the notorious trap draw to which he frequently alludes figured into it.
Miller, 46 then, already was a full-time broadcaster and was scheduled to work about 15 tournaments for NBC in 1994. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was his first tournament since playing in the event one year earlier. In the four preceding years, Miller had played only six tournaments. He also still had the yips that had driven him from full-time tournament golf in 1989.
Yet on a cool, wet day at Pebble Beach, there he was, fending off a challenge from Tom Watson, defeating him by one, for his first victory in seven years and the last of his 25 career wins.
"This is a time warp," Miller said afterward. "I do not play more than 25 rounds of golf a year, and that's stretching it. I do not practice. I'm an announcer. This wasn't right. I wasn't supposed to win this. It's a fluke."
Earlier, Miller was watching from the 17th tee when up on the green Watson three-putted to fall one behind. What followed was an example of Miller's renowned ball-striking prowess, which, unlike his putter, had not deserted him. Probably still hasn't.
At the time, Miller carried a 7-wood, but not a 3-iron, and the shot from 209 yards called for a 3-iron. "When Tom misses, I'm standing there watching the white surf beat up on the rocks," Miller said. "I've got a tough pin, the wrong club and I'm thinking, 'How can I overcome this?'"
This is where the trap draw came in. He took his 4-iron, closed the face, played the ball back in his stance, and "revved it up," he said afterward. The low draw landed on the green, setting up a par, and he closed with another par at 18 to win.
"This will give the older guys hope," Miller said. "They'll say,
How did this guy win? I can beat him. Maybe I've got a chance.' Nicklaus will be saying, Yes. Where's the clubs.'"
(Getty Images photo)