Originally created 08/18/99

Caddy turns commentator



PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Todd Miller lost his caddie while advancing to the match-play portion of the U.S. Amateur Championship.

Miller was among 64 players who survived two rounds of stroke play that ended Tuesday on the Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill courses. They advanced to match play, which begins today and ends, six rounds later, on Sunday.

Miller, 19, was accompanied around the course by a man who's quite familiar with the Monterey Peninsula -- his father, Johnny Miller, who twice won the AT&T Pro-Am tournament held each year at Pebble Beach.

"He helps me out here, he's played the course a bunch," said Miller, the youngest of six children. "He knows what club I should hit and he knows my game pretty well. And I'm not an easy guy to caddie for; I get mad. He keeps me calm."

Johnny Miller won't be able to caddie for his son the rest of the week. He'll be doing TV commentary on the championship -- perhaps passing judgment on his son's shots.

And that would only be fair, because the younger Miller has his own opinions on his father's TV work.

"He's my father, so I'm not going to criticize him," Todd Miller said. "But some of his comments are a little over the edge sometimes."

Miller shot a 4-over 75 Tuesday on Pebble Beach, following his par 72 Monday on Spyglass Hill. His two-round total of 147 easily qualified him for match play.

The elder Miller, a former U.S. Open champion who won the AT&T tourney in 1987 and '94 at Pebble Peach, said, "At least you can't say I'm a jinx. It's not easy for a father to tell his kids what to do.

"He's real strong-minded, but that's what you want in a player. I think I'm a little bit of a security blanket. I think I know Pebble Beach better than anybody in the world."

Gene Elliott, president of a heavy machinery company in West Des Moines, Iowa, had the best two-day score, even-par 143 among early finishers. He's a former pro who was reinstated as an amateur in 1995 after six undistinguished years on the American and European tours.

Early projections had the qualifying cut at 151. With about half the field still on the course, Augustan Jeff Keck, with rounds of 77-74 -- 151, is on the bubble for match play.

Augustans Brian Scurlock (77-70 -- 156) and Jeff Knox (80-81 -- 161), and Nash Elliott (75-79 -- 154) of Estill, S.C., whose family has held a West Lake membership for a number of years, failed to qualify.

Charles Howell, the Oklahoma State junior from Augusta who had a 3-over 74 Monday, made the turn at Spyglass Hill with a 38 late Tuesday afternoon. Clemson All-American John Engler, who opened with an 80 Monday, was 4-over par for the round after nine holes Tuesday.

Among those advancing to match play were 1997 Amateur champion Matt Kuchar and 16-year-old South African Christo Greyling, the youngest player in the original field of 312.

Tom McKnight, runnerup in the 1998 Amateur, shot a 10-over 82 on Spyglass on Tuesday and did not reach match play.

"It was pretty embarrassing the shots I hit. I just played terrible," said McKnight, a petroleum distributor from Galax, Va. "I was playing poorly before I came out here, and I just followed it up by playing badly here."