ROUND OF RENOWN

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ROUND OF RENOWN                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sunday,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       June 10,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2007




                                                                                                                                                                                                    TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        107th U.S. Open Championship, Oakmont Country Club
Johnny Miller’s dissection of Oakmont stands test of time
He outdueled Arnold Palmer,
among others, with his record-
setting, final-round 63 in 1973.

BY MIKE DUDURICH
TRIBUNE-REVIEW


   At 60, the passage of time has allowed
Johnny Miller additional perspective on
what happened at Oakmont Country Club
34 years ago.
   Remember that incredible final-round
63 he shot in the 1973 U.S. Open? It’s one
Miller will certainly never forget.
   “Well, it was voted as the best round
of golf ever played,” said Miller, as he
relaxed on a couch in one of NBC’s
trailers at The Players Championship.
“I knew it was a great round. But I was
more impressed with the fact that I won
the Open.”
   Not only was that round a winner, it
was the first time anyone had shot a 63 in
a major. Further, Miller’s historic round
was the lowest 18-hole score in U.S. Open
history and remains two shots better than
anyone has posted in the final round of
the Open.
   “Now that I’m older, to look back at
all the rounds that have ever been played
and when you say there have been 59s
and then, well, 63 in the final round to
beat Arnold Palmer, I give it to Johnny
Miller,” said Miller, smiling. “It’s sort of
cool — no, it’s really cool — to think you
maybe played the best round ever in the
U.S. Open.”
   Miller came into that final Sunday
six shots out of the lead. A third-round
76 appeared to have sealed his fate.
   “I had forgotten my yardage book on
Saturday,” he said. “My wife, Linda,
went back and got it for me and gave it
to me on the 10th tee. By that time, I was
5-over-par.”
   Miller, 26 at the time, was certain he
was headed home.
   “I figured after shooting 76 on
Saturday, I was done,” Miller said with
a shrug. “And I could catch that last flight
out to San Francisco (Sunday night). I
was the kind of guy who got out of town
quicker than anybody in the game.”
   Miller, who had teed off an hour earlier
than the leaders — one of whom was
Palmer — birdied his first four holes. In
fact, birdies appeared to be the order of
the day. Despite a three-putt bogey on the
long par-3 eighth, Miller birdied Nos. 9,
11, 12, 13 and 15.
   When he walked off 18, Miller had
posted nine birdies and one bogey. It
                                                                                                                                                                           COURTESY USGA ARCHIVES
was a spectacular display of shot-making
on a golf course that had been tamed by        Johnny Miller holds the championship trophy after winning the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.
persistent rain.
   “I played really well,” Miller said.
“I hit all 18 greens in regulation. My                                                                                                             will handle what he believes to be the
putting wasn’t that good. If it had been,                                                                                                          greatest test in U.S. Open golf.
the score could have been a lot lower.”          Miller’s 1973 U.S. Open scorecard                                                                    “After this Open, Oakmont might
   Miller credits his iron play in helping                                                                                                         become the No. 1 course in the United
cast a “magical day.”                            at Oakmont’s par-71 course (final round 63, 8-under-par)                                          States,” Miller said. “Shinnecock is
   “I knocked it close on just about every                                                                                                         close, but tee to green, Oakmont is the
hole,” he said. “I was in a definite zone,       1   2    3    4   5    6   7    8    9   OUT 10       11   12   13   14 15   16   17   18 IN      best test of anywhere in the world.”
like in another world. When I look back                                                                                                               And what will it take to hoist this
at my face, I was very aware of what was         4   4    4    5   4    3   4    3    5    36    4     4    5    3    4   4   3    4    4   35     year’s U.S. Open trophy?
going on. I never did choke with any iron                                                                                                             “They (the USGA) can make it where
shots the whole day.”                            3   3    3    4   4    3   4    4    4    32    4     3    4    2    4   3   3    4    4   31     it’s unplayable,” Miller said. “So, I
   Miller’s birdie on the 13th hole tied                                                                                                           wouldn’t be surprised if over-par will
him with Palmer. A birdie on No. 15 gave                                                                                                           win. But if they get some breezes and
him the outright lead — a lead he never                                                                                                            no rain, it could be a little embarrassing
relinquished.                                  76 remains the fifth-highest third-round              Jack Nicklaus, who finished tied for          with some of the scores these guys will
   One of those ahead of him on the board      score by an Open winner. He’s the last                fourth with Palmer, wasn’t having any         shoot.”
was John Schlee, one of four co-leaders        player to have such an inflated score and             of it, either.                                   Either way, Miller is sure the public
(including Palmer). His share of the           go on to win the tournament.                             “Johnny was done before I teed off, I      will “fall in love” with Oakmont’s
lead was short-lived. Schlee hit three            In some quarters, Miller’s round                   remember that,” Nicklaus said at the          distinctive layout.
tee shots off No. 1, took a double bogey       was criticized as it was played on a rain-            Players in May. “They’ve had all kinds           “It’s sort of a true inland links course
and eventually lost by a stroke.               softened course. He takes exception to the            of rumors of what happened at the golf        with the fescue and no trees except for a
   Palmer finished with a final-round 72.      criticism.                                            course. The sprinklers got stuck on or        few landmark ones near the clubhouse,”
Julius Boros and Jerry Heard each shot            “I’ll tell you what: The ball was rolling          whatever … so the golf course was extra       Miller said.
73 and finished tied for seventh.              maybe 5 or 10 yards that day, that’s it,”             wet. And we didn’t know that in the              Miller is proud his only U.S. Open
   Miller hit 18 greens and missed only        Miller said. “I was swinging as hard as               afternoon, because the golf course played     win — one of 25 PGA Tour titles — played
one fairway. He hit five approach shots        I could all day. Oakmont after a rain is              its normal way.                               out at the renowned Oakmont.
inside 6 feet, two of which rolled to within   harder than most courses dry. The sub-                   “But I don’t care if the sprinklers were      And while Miller walked away with
a foot of the cup.                             soil is clay that doesn’t absorb water at             stuck on or the holes were six inches         the championship that wet Sunday
   His comeback was the second best            all. It wasn’t as if we were throwing darts           wide,” Nicklaus added. “That was one          afternoon in 1973, the legendary golfer
by a winner, one shot behind Palmer’s          at those greens. I could have shot 59, and            heck of a round of golf.”                     accepts he will be remembered for that
memorable comeback at Cherry Hills in          only three other guys broke 70.”                         Miller is excited to come back to          final-round 63.
1960.                                             Miller gave little notice to the chirping          Oakmont this week as NBC’s lead analyst.         “It’s going to be on my tombstone,”
   On the flip side, Miller’s third-round      that followed his record-setting round.               He can’t wait to see how the top players      he said, laughing.

				
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