Will he be right? Johnny Miller predicted Tiger wouldn’t break Jack’s record in 2004

While doing some research for my National Sports Journalism Center column on Johnny Miller, I came across a story I did on him for the Chicago Tribune in May, 2004.

Miller was in town to promote his book, I Call The Shots. Looking back, he had some views on Tiger Woods that are looking to be fairly prescient now.

At the time, Woods was only 28 and had eight majors in the bank. Now going into this week’s U.S. Open, he is 37 and stuck on 14 majors since 2008, five away from breaking Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Here’s what I wrote:

The headline-grabber of Miller’s book is his prediction that Woods won’t break Nicklaus’ record of 18 victories in majors. With eight majors in the bank, Woods could win just one in each of the next 11 years and accomplish the feat.

That seemed to be a no-brainer a couple of years ago. But Miller said he sees Woods hitting a wall, just as Nicklaus did and he did. He called Woods “an old 28.”

Woods did hit a wall. Or more specifically a fire hydrant. However, he did win six majors from 2005-2008 prior to his Thanksgiving night ride in 2009.

For starters, Miller said he believes Woods will be fortunate to avoid injuries. Woods had surgery on his left knee at the end of 2002.

“With the speed of his swing, he has to dodge the bad back, the bad wrist, the bad shoulder,” Miller said.

Hmm, it turns out Woods wasn’t through having problems with that left knee.

More important, Miller said staying motivated will be Woods’ toughest challenge.

“Tiger always has won every tournament in every age group,” Miller said. “The bottom line is you have to be focused for so many years to do that. There comes a period in a guy’s life where you say, `Man, I’m really grinding it.’ Then at 30 you wonder, `Is this what I want to do the rest of my career?'”

Or do I want to go out and have numerous affairs? I doubt Miller was thinking of that reason, but he had a feeling Woods would get sidetracked.

Nicklaus, Miller noted, went three years without winning a major at a similar age. But he certainly got going again.

There’s no reason Woods can’t regain his dominance. But first he has to find the fairway.

Woods’ drives “are starting on one course and finishing on another,” Miller said.

Miller went through a litany of Woods’ flaws, ranging from grip to wrist cock to the influence of his good friend, Mark O’Meara. He contended Woods has been “O’Meara-ized,” and that isn’t a good thing.

“I keep having this dream where Tiger comes to me and says, `OK, what’s wrong with my game?'” Miller said. “Well, I’m ready, Tiger.”

Woods still has problems hitting fairways, although O’Meara can’t be blamed. They aren’t close anymore.

As for Miller’s dream about Woods contacting him for advice. Something tells me that still hasn’t happened.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *