Johnny Miller - U.S.A. - Biography of his golfing career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 11 July 1973

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      Tuesday, 29 April 1947
      San Francisco, U.S.A.
  • U.S.A.
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Johnny MILLER - U.S.A. - Biography of his golfing career.

                   1966 - 1973.   US Open. New talent emerges.


Johnny Miller first caught the eye when finishing as the leading amateur in the 1966 US Open at the Olympic Country Club,San Francisco. Remarkably,the 19 year old Miller had only gone to the event to caddie but he instead qualified and went onto finish in a highly creditable eighth place. It seemed that a new golfing star was emerging and between the years of 1973-76 Miller was,along with Jack Nicklaus,the dominant force in golf. He did not turn professional until three years after that fine performance at the US Open and first tasted success with his win at the 1971 Southern Open. In the Masters of that year Miller finished at seven under par and tied for second with Nicklaus,two strokes behind the winner Charles Coody. He opened the tournament with rounds of 72 and 73 and closed with two 68's but it was a case of what might have been as with just four holes remaining he led fellow American Coody by two shots. He won his second tour event at the 1972 Sea Pines Heritage Classic and the following year he landed his first major with a thrilling victory at the US Open. Oakmont was the venue for that triumph but going into the last day a Miller win had seemed a rather remote possibility thanks to his disappointing third round 76. That left him six strokes back on the leaders but a scintillating final round 63,that included nine birdies,saw him claim that first major title ahead of Schlee and Weiskopf. (David Scranage)


Johnny Miller is pictured above at the 1975 Open Golf Championship.      Photo G. Herringshaw.  ©


                                 1973 Open-75. Leading money winner in '74 & near misses.


Miller continued his fine form into the Open at Troon later that summer where his nine under par total left him level with Englishman Neil Coles but three strokes back on the champion Tom Weiskopf. His rounds of 70,68 and 69 meant he went into the final round just one stroke behind his fellow American but a final round 72 compared to Weiskopf's 70 saw the chance of a second major of the year slip through his fingers. Miller had enjoyed his best year yet and pocketed $127,833 on his way to finishing 9th in the US Money List but the following year was to prove even better. The Californian tasted success in no less than eight tour events,including five of the first eleven tournaments of the year,on his way to topping the Money List with a total of $353,021. Miller's winnings were in excess of $100,000 clear of Jack Nicklaus in second place and this despite missing two months during the season. Miller's splendid form sadly did not extend to the major championships,however,and his best performance during 1974 was his 10th place finish in the Open at Lytham St. Annes. At the 1975 Masters he was pipped by one stroke by Nicklaus after closing the tournament in superb fashion with rounds of 65 and 66. Miller left himself just to much to do after his opening rounds of 75 and 71 had left him ten shots behind Nicklaus and in the Open later that year there was to be another agonisingly close-call. Rounds of 71,69 and 66 left him in fine fettle going into the final day but a closing effort of 74 saw him miss out by just one shot to Tom Watson. (David Scranage).



Johnny Miller is here pictured at the 1981 Open Championship. Photo George Herringshaw.  ©


                                                       1976 onwards. Glory at 1976 Open


Royal Birkdale was the venue in 1976 for Miller's first Open win in what proved to be his second and last triumph in a major championship. His rounds of 72,68 and 73 saw him start the last day one stroke behind Spaniard Seve Ballesteros but he then produced his best form of the four days to close with a 66 to canter to a six stroke victory. There were successes at the NBC Tucson Open and Bob Hope Desert Classic that same year but over the next few years Miller faded from the picture to such an extent that he finished in a lowly 111th in the money list in 1978. Part of the reason for his fall from grace was his decision to spend more time with his family but he had,undoubtedly,lost some of his hunger for the game.

To his credit Miller bounced back to win the Lancome tournament in Paris in late 1979 and the following year he triumphed for the first time in four years on the US Tour in the Gleason Inverary tournament. He finished that year in a creditable 30th place on the money list and he continued the improvement into 1981 with a 12th place finish on the list. That was sufficient to see him into the Ryder Cup team but it was not the most memorable of weeks for the man from California as he managed only a half point from his two games as the Americans strolled to a 18 1/2-11 1/2 victory. That was Miller's second Ryder Cup appearance six years after his debut where he enjoyed a rather more successful event and contributed two and a half points from four in a 21-11 success. There was the odd victory during the remainder of the decade and then in 1994 Miller enjoyed one final hurrah with his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. (David Scranage)