The Loop

MediaWatch: Johnny and the Unknown Soldier

June 18, 2011

The beauty of NBC's Johnny Miller is that he offers something for everyone, those who enjoy his pointed commentary and those who don't. And there's no shortage of either.

On behalf of those in the latter category, he offered this early in Rory McIlroy's third round in the U.S. Open on Saturday, following a hooked tee shot: "We're talking about thousands of inches on the bottom there. One-thousandth of an inch on a driver is 20 yards of hook."

Say what?

"If 1000th of an inch on a driver is 20yds were [sic] all in trouble," Paul Azinger wrote on Twitter.

For Joe Ogilvie, it summoned a memory of Johnny Carson's all-knowing character Carnac the Magnificent (though Ogilvie spelled it wrong in his hashtag).

"Johnny Miller to reveal name of the unknown soldier in tomorrow's telecast. #usopen #Karnak"

Their criticism and mockery notwithstanding, Miller remains the most interesting man in televised golf. Who else addresses pressure and choking with the frequency it deserves in a game with an abundance of both? And he does so acknowledging his own frailties in that regard.

Setting the stage for McIlroy's 36-hole pursuit of a U.S. Open victory, he continues to return to his back-nine collapse at Augusta National in April.

"He should be getting a little bit used to it," Miller said of the frequent leads McIlroy has had in major championships, "but still when you've have bad experiences under pressure, when you melt under pressure, people say you should learn from that. Nicklaus said you should learn from your mistakes. Man, all I know, when I made mistakes, they would bug me the next time I got in there. The only way to erase that is to win this U.S. Open."

From the rest of the day:

-- Miller often noted how McIlroy twirled his club when a shot was in the air and he knew it to be a good one. "He picked that up from Tiger, of course," Miller said.

And Tiger picked it up from Mark O'Meara, whose legacy, notwithstanding two major championships, apparently is going to be the club twirl.

-- Ogilvie on Twitter: "I assume Graeme McDowell would have taken E through 54 holes in his title defense for US Open, problem is Congo playing like AT&T National."

-- Peter Jacobsen analyzed McIlroy's swing: "Look at his turn. Just swings his body through. His arms follow. There's really nothing that could go wrong. So solid."

Miller's response: "I'm not sure his swing's as good as Sam Snead's, but it isn't far from it."

-- Miller on McIlroy's skill: "You can see people can feel some greatness going on, potential greatness going on. I don't throw greatness around too fast. But I think they know this young man has got greatness written all over him. And if he could win this one it could open up the magic bottle, just like we saw Tiger when he came on the scene."

-- Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, the reigning U.S. Open champion, sees the greatness to which Miller was alluding.

"He might be the best player I've ever seen hit a golf ball," he said in an interview with Bob Costas. "He's quite frustrating to play practice rounds with, because I walk off quite demoralized about my own game."

-- "This is the round that shows him he can do it tomorrow," Miller said of the 68 that McIlory shot on Saturday.

-- John Strege