Miller’s Time to Slam Tiger’s Grand Ambitions

Johnny Miller is the American equivalent of Greg Norman in many ways. He was an exciting player, had a shock of blond hair and the crowds loved him. Like Norman, he only won two major titles but his impact on golf during the 70s was bigger than that.

He is now transferred his tenacity from the golf course to the commentator’s box, gaining a reputation of actually “saying what other announcers only think”.

His latest “saying” concerns Tiger Woods, who is currently recovering from surgery. It goes back to when Woods said a calendar year Grand Slam was “easily within reason”.

Starting off with “I’m not taking a slam at Tiger” and then going on to do just that, Miller was quoted as saying in The Globe and Mail:

“I think the Grand Slam is something you start thinking about on the first of August, after you’ve won the three other ones.”

I agree, though I think it may be a bit unfair on Woods. His quote first appeared on his website on January 4 as a throw-away line at the bottom of an article previewing 2008. And it was clearly in response to a question from the writer.

What was he supposed to say? “No, I can’t do it”, despite having already won four majors in a row ending at the 2001 Masters.

As a journalist, I’ve seen this happen a few times. An athlete simply responds to a journalist’s question with an exciting quote. Once it is out in the pubic domain, people tend to think that it was voluntarily offered out of arrogance and not forced.

If you were reading news reports during the early part of the year, many people never doubted Woods’ ability to win four in a row, especially with the way he was destroying the opposition event after event on the PGA Tour.

However, Grand Slam talk fizzled out after his failure to win the US Masters. And journalists started writing as if they had never shared Woods’ vision.

Yes, Miller is right for 99.9 per cent of the professional golfers out there. For them, talk of a Grand Slam should only surface in August after the first three majors were won.

For one golfer, though, namely Tiger Woods, it will be year-round talk. Simply for being Tiger Woods, having already won four in a row en route to 13 major titles, such talk will always follow him around.

So, if it’s not Woods saying it without prompting, it will be people asking him about it. And Tiger will probably answer as honestly as he possibly can given the confidence he has in his own game.

One Response to “Miller’s Time to Slam Tiger’s Grand Ambitions”

  1. I think Miller makes a valid point. Even Tiger has said he won’t make that mistake again. There’s no reason for Tiger to make such pronouncements, especially in our Tiger-obsessed media age. I would never say he couldn’t do it (the Grand Slam), but it’s exceedingly difficult even for him. It’s not the same as winning a string of regular tour events. And now that the Masters setup is more like a U.S. Open, it’s even harder.

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