AS I WATCHED HIM STRIDE UP the 72nd fairway at Royal Birkdale, the thought occurred to me, “Why didn’t he win another major?”
I flipped on the Golf Channel last night as they were airing one of their classic highlight programs, the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale, also this year’s Open venue.
Johnny Miller’s final-round performance in that Open was phenomenal. Johnny fired a 66 to overtake 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros and leave the great Jack Nicklaus and Masters champion Raymond Floyd in the dust.
In true Ballesteros fashion, Seve was knocking the ball all over England. Paired together, Nicklaus and Floyd played well, though, closing with 69 and 70, respectively. But Miller looked like he was playing in Tucson, taking dead aim at flagsticks and running in birdies with his Bulls Eye putter and jabby stroke. He even chipped in for an eagle on the 13th hole.
Johnny won going away, by six shots, the largest winning margin at the British Open since Arnold Palmer at Royal Troon in 1962. Wearing a red shirt and a pair of those awful golf slacks from the 70s, a beaming Miller hoisted the Claret Jug. He looked like he could win a bunch of them. He was only 29.
That was the end, his second and final major victory, although he did win seven more times on the PGA Tour. It’s still hard to believe Miller didn’t win another major. He was such a good player.
−The Armchair Golfer