The weather Channel never said anything about it getting ready to rain 1976 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but rain it did. A young Nicklaus made the cut. A vintage Arnie broke 70. An older-edition Pate fired a 66. On Sunday a young-swinging Miller was one shot behind the leader. A young-thinking Watson two. Who said bell-bottoms ever left?
Of course, the young Nicklaus was 30-year-old amateur Steve, not Jack, playing as his father's partner in the pro-am. And Arnold Palmer and Jerry Pate ended up missing the cut. But this Miller and that Watson were the valuable collector's originals: Johnny Miller, 46, and Tom Watson, 44, two guys who dominated the 1970s but pretty much skipped the last decade while their putters were out of town.
Legends both, each man had won only one PGA Tour event in the last 10 years—Miller the 1987 AT&T and Watson the 1987 Nabisco Championship (now called the Tour Championship). Since then it has been filling out freshly pressed NBC blazers for Miller and holding up Ryder Cup trophies for Watson.
Miller will get back in his blazer plenty, but after last week he'll start packing his spikes a little more often. Impossible as it seems, a man who has entered only five tournaments in the 1990s, and had planned to enter only one this season, made a simple two-foot par putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to finish at seven under and beat Watson, Corey Pavin, Kirk Triplett and Jeff Maggert by one stroke. "I guess this changes my plans," said Miller, who looked as shocked as a Publishers Clearing House winner. "I guess I have to play the Masters now and the Tournament of Champions and...." Rotten luck.
Watson, vanquished and dejected, nonetheless greeted Miller on the fringe of the most scenic finishing hole in the world. "Congratulations," Watson said. "Now get back in the booth."
Miller gave up playing the Tour four years ago and became a color announcer on NBC's golf telecasts. Actually he gave up everything except this tournament, which he hasn't missed since 1970. "I play young at Pebble Beach," said Miller. "Nobody in the field has played more rounds at Pebble Beach than I have. Nobody. Not even Jack Nicklaus."
Indeed, Miller is building a house in Pacific Grove, just a drive and a few two-irons from the 1st tee. "I've always called Pebble his girlfriend," says Miller's wife, Linda. That's a heartbreaking thing, always having to check for poa annua in your husband's pockets.
Miller, though, appeared to have little faith in his chances. Chilled fans spent the week looking up from their Thermos bottles of caff� latte to holler, "Johnny, you're going to win!" But Miller, the reluctant star, wasn't buying it. "I don't know," he said after shooting a 67 on Saturday, which put him one stroke off the lead, "I can barely picture myself winning.... I came here to have fun, not win."
Uh-oh. Anybody who came to Pebble to have fun seemed doomed. Take comedian Bill Murray, the best thing to happen to this tournament since Jack Lemmon discovered the shank. In his three years at the AT&T, Murray has made the serious mistake of trying to make a game fun. Last week he pounded on a San-o-let and yelled, "Hurry up, we're on the tee!"; played golf in a sport coat from the House of Dumpster; and skulled a chip shot and ran after it yelling, "Wait up!"
Obviously this is not the kind of stuff you want fans to, say, enjoy. PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman labeled Murray's behavior "inappropriate, detrimental and [it] will not be tolerated in the future.' " Murray, head down, finally responded. "[I am] asking for the resignation of Deane Beman."