The Loop

Johnny Miller, 20 years ago, effectively predicted Tiger Woods’ back woes

July 27, 2016

Hindsight is easy, foresight not so much. Looking back, the Red Sox should not have sold the Babe to the Yankees to finance “No, No Nanette.” Had they known ahead of time the decades of wandering in the wilderness to which they would be sentenced, they’d have kept him.

Which somehow brings us to Johnny Miller.

Miller gets criticized frequently for, what, having opinions with which some don’t agree? Can’t we just stipulate that a man who was the best player in the world for a time, a winner of the U.S. Open and British Open, a remarkable ball striker who had the yips and acknowledges having choked, who basically came out of retirement to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1994, might know what he’s talking about?

But we digress. Miller used to write a column for Golf World’s print edition. I stumbled across one written 20 years ago, just after Tiger Woods won the U.S. Amateur for the third time, before he had played his first event as a professional. Miller wrote this:

“The only thing that bothers me is that Tiger at 20 already has swing-related injuries and signs of a bad back even though he works out and is in buff condition. The combination of being wiry, strong and blazing fast puts a lot of stress on his spine. He weighs about 155 pounds and can carry the ball almost twice that far in yards. That’s almost unheard of. If you take a 350 Chevy smallblock engine and it puts out 400 horsepower, no problem. But Tiger puts out about 650. When you do that in a car, it’s easy to throw a rod.”

Well, Woods threw several rods in the ensuing years. Most recently, he has had two back surgeries that have prevented him from playing competitively for nearly a year with no time frame for when — or if — he might return.

Woods’ absence from the PGA Championship this week is the 10th major championship he’s missed since winning the U.S. Open in 2008. He’s keeping the repair shop in business.