In a surprising announcement Wednesday evening, the U.S. Golf Association said it has signed a 12-year multimedia deal with Fox network and Fox Sports 1 to be the domestic broadcast partner for the U.S. Open and other USGA championships.
NBC Sports had been televising the U.S. Open since 1995 at Shinnecock Hills, with Miller as its shoot-from-hip analyst who became as much of the show as the golf itself.
“It was a big bummer,” Miller told The Associated Press from his home in Utah. “For some reason, I told 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.”
The deal is for 12 years and runs through 2026. The first U.S. Open for Fox will be from Chambers Bay outside Seattle.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
NBC’s last U.S. Open will be next year at Pinehurst No. 2.
STILL SEARCHING: Since he declared himself “brain-dead” the day before he missed the cut at July’s British Open, Rory McIlroy has been looking for ways to become more positive as he prepares to defend his title at the PGA Championship.
He thinks he’s found something.
“I’ve been watching a few videos of (a victory) last year at Kiawah and watching some videos of some of my best weeks that I’ve played,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “It sort of lifted me a little bit and I took some good things away from that.”
From the videos, he looked not only at the way he is swinging a golf club but also “body language, how you carry yourself, your little mannerisms,” he said.
“I guess it’s just trying to remember those feelings and remember how I felt that week and trying to carry some of that into this week and just get those good, positive thoughts going,” he said.
Having gone winless in 2013, McIlroy could use the help. He owns four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour but has been forgettable in the majors, tying for 41st at the U.S. Open at Merion and missing the cut at the British Open following rounds of 79 – after which he made the “brain-dead” comment – and 75..
FRESH SET OF EYES: The only swing coach for Rickie Fowler was Barry McDonnell, who taught him on the Murrieta Valley Golf Range in southern California. McDonnell died at age 75 two years ago.
Fowler still doesn’t have a coach, though he did seek some help.
Butch Harmon said he was asked to take a look at Fowler’s swing during the British Open, during which Harmon recommended the club going back a little more straight so that Fowler doesn’t have to drop it back into position on the downswing.
Harmon did not classify it as a formal teacher-pupil relationship.
Nick Watney, meanwhile, was seen twice on the practice range working with Todd Anderson, the Sea Island swing coach whose clients include Brandt Snedeker. Watney worked with Harmon for years, and lately had been seeing his son, Claude Harmon III.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER: A tradition like one other took place Tuesday night when defending champion Rory McIlroy hosted a dinner for past winners of the PGA Championship. McIlroy was in charge of the menu, similar to the Champions Dinner at the Masters, the difference being he didn’t have to pay for it.
So what was for dinner?
A goat’s cheese and beet root salad for a starter. Irish tenderloin as the main course. Sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
“It was good,” McIlroy said, speaking at least for himself. “Everybody definitely enjoyed the last two courses. I don’t know how the appetizer went down.”
He also gave them each Bose speakers that were personalized. McIlroy signed a deal with Bose earlier this year.
Keeping with the tradition, McIlroy asked two former champions to make speeches. He selected two-time winner Dave Stockton, who coaches McIlroy on his putting; and Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship prior to McIlroy winning last year at Kiawah Island.
“It was cool,” McIlroy said. “You have the most recent PGA champions like myself, Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer. And then you have someone like Doug Ford. It was his 91st birthday yesterday.”
NO SOUVENIRS FOR YOU: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson tried to do some advance scouting during a visit to Gleneagles, the famed Scottish resort that will be the site of next year’s matches.
While his hosts couldn’t have been more gracious showing Watson around, the hospitality dried up pretty quickly when he asked to see the pin sheets from a previous tournament. By seeing where the putting cups were located during the Johnnie Walker Championship, played over the same Centenary Course, Watson was hoping to make an educated guess where they might be when the U.S. and European sides clash a year from September.
“I looked at them with a smile and said, ‘You’re not going to give it to us?’”
“They said, ‘No.’”
Watson laughed off the exchange, saying it was “no big deal. ... I’ve been assured that the golf course will be set up not with any particular bias in mind.”
But that doesn’t mean the Europeans won’t enjoy a significant home-court advantage.
“At that time of year,” Watson added, “it can get cold there.”
GREEN SPEED: The PGA Championship took a page out of Augusta National when asked about the speed of the greens at Oak Hill.
Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, offered a different twist.
“Championship speed,” he said.
Asked for a number, Haigh said he didn’t believe it was appropriate to give a number on the Stimpmeter.
OH, BROTHERS: The sons of famed teaching pro and former Masters champion Claude Harmon <0x2014> Butch, Craig, Billy and the late Dick - were known to give each other the needle. Nothing has changed over the years.
Butch Harmon is the most famous of them having worked with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and a host of other major champions. Billy Harmon once said the oldest brother wasn’t a great teacher, he just had the best students. Craig Harmon is the longtime head pro at Oak Hill.
That led Billy Harmon to offer this nugget Wednesday: “Best thing about being at Oak Hill this week is that I’m Craig’s brother, not Butch’s brother.”
To which Butch replied smugly, “When you’re the oldest, you don’t have to do much talking.”