Despite 63 in '73, Miller says he was never era's Woods

ON MEDIA

Commentary

June 15, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

Johnny Miller owns one of the most famous rounds in the history of golf's major championships - the 63 he shot at Oakmont on the last day to win the 1973 U.S. Open.

With the Open back at Oakmont this week and NBC there to chronicle it, the topic of Miller's performance 34 years ago was bound to come up. But, in typical Miller fashion, the network's No. 1 golf commentator won't say that marks him as a player to rank with Tiger Woods.

"If anybody studied my career, I was like Jekyll and Hyde," Miller said, according to highlights of a conference call this week. "I was great one day and crappy the next two. I could get it going; I'm not bragging - you just have to look at the books. I had no short game, so if I didn't hit 16, 17 greens a round, I was hosed. I had to do it with ball striking. I was the world's worst chipper. That's why I was the anti-Tiger."

Miller added his voice to the chorus of respect for Oakmont.

"This golf course is unlike any other in that every day of the year it plays like a U.S. Open," Miller said. "There are no changes that need to be made. The greens don't get sped up or double cut anymore than they normally get cut or rolled. Many of the bunkers are seven, eight, nine, 10 feet deep, which is the same for the members. I mean, it's the hardest course in America without any trickery. The greens are the toughest greens in the world."

To convey just how tricky those greens are, NBC will employ a "Green Grid" graphic on nine holes to display undulations that otherwise might look flat on television. NBC also placed a camera inside a bunker at the 17th hole known as "Big Mouth." (Speaking of which, ESPN is covering the first two rounds, as well, with an announcing team that includes Chris Berman.)

Miller praised the state of Woods' game heading into the Open, but said Phil Mickelson could have been the favorite if not for his wrist injury.

"I thought his mojo level was at an all-time high," Miller said.

And luckily for Mickelson, the PGA Tour isn't conducting any testing for elevated levels of mojo.

Radio daze

That would be me in a radio daze. Last week, I reported information on Orioles radio ratings for April at their new home at WHFS (105.7 FM) compared with their former flagship, WBAL (1090 AM), and though the numbers were correct, I neglected to get more ratings and thus ended up being too effusive.

Yes, for the 25-54 age group, WHFS did better this April than WBAL did in April 2006 during 7 p.m. to midnight, when almost all Orioles games are broadcast. However, when I said WHFS had "more ears," that was accurate only for the 25-54 group. The more ears really belonged to WBAL.

In overall numbers for everyone 12 and older during 7 to midnight, WBAL averaged 97,100 listeners last April to WHFS' 82,200 this April. When it came to share (the percentage among those listening to radio at the time) of the 12-plus audience, WBAL had a 9.0 to WHFS' 4.7.

These numbers were confirmed by both stations.

Given this is the second time I've written about radio ratings only to have to correct myself the next week, I will confirm I need to be more careful if I ever dare to write about them again.

Bad angle

To whomever it is at ESPN/ABC who thinks it's a good idea to show NBA action on a camera close to the court: It's not.

Those low-angle shots are dizzying and don't offer enough perspective on the court. You sometimes can't see enough of the players, and the player with the ball can disappear off-screen, particularly on quick drives to the basket.

So take care of that by next season, OK?

Taking it slow

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network added "super slo mo" for Orioles telecasts this week. This technology brings more detail to the picture during replays.

"It marks another example of MASN's commitment to providing the highest-quality coverage of major league baseball to its viewers," spokesman Todd Webster said in a news release.

For those of you who would like that highest-quality coverage to include games in high-definition television - across the majors, only the Orioles and Washington Nationals on MASN and the Kansas City Royals don't have regional HDTV telecasts - Webster said there is nothing new brewing about adding HD.

And because I know you're still interested, there is nothing new brewing about adding HDTV to the Frager household.

Barry TV

As Barry Bonds gets closer to Henry Aaron's home run record, Fox and ESPN are considering ways to break into regular programming to show his at-bats or even picking up San Francisco Giants games, the Associated Press reported. It would be a far easier matter for ESPN, which is better equipped to do cut-ins on something like SportsCenter. For Fox, pre-empting prime-time programming for a Giants game would be more complicated because of broadcast rights arrangements.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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