Johnny Miller, for golf fans who chug a brew (or leave the room) each time everybody’s favorite analyst reminds TV viewers of his 1973 U.S. Open triumph, has been the voice of this country’s national championship since 1995. With Fox Sports inking a deal to begin broadcasting USGA events starting in 2015, Miller said Wednesday he wished the network the best but was sad to cede his position as NBC Sports’ lead analyst for the event he considers his own.
"The U.S. Open was always my championship. It’s what I was groomed to do, to play," Miller said during a teleconference promoting NBC/Golf Channel’s coverage of the remaining two FedExCup playoff events. "I just always got up for the Open and loved it.
"You know, I’ll still love it," Miller said, "I just won’t be covering it."
Since taking the mike so many years ago, Miller has been unsparing in his critiques of current and past players. The 66-year-old has certainly been a lightning rod for controversy over the years, starting with his first NBC telecast of the U.S. Open from Shinnecock Hills.
"It was a big bummer," Miller told the Associated Press last month when the Fox deal came to light. "For some reason, I told [fellow NBC broadcaster] 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," said Miller, who noted at the time he would probably not sign with Fox even if the company offered him a spot once his NBC contract runs out in 2015.
"I don't know what they're going to do," Miller told AP. "You can't just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open. I guess the money was more important than the performance. No way they can step in and do the job we were doing. It's impossible. There's just no way. I wish Fox the very best."
By Wednesday, the bombastic two-time major winner had softened his tone a bit, wishing Fox well and bemoaning his loss.
"It’s something that’s pretty sad for me," he told reporters on the call.
"All of us at ... Golf channel, but especially NBC ... put their heart and soul into it," Miller said. "That was the focal point of everything we did and I just hope that Fox does ... I absolutely wish them absolutely the best. It’s such a great championship."