He also said, "I had a good year last year but I was lousy in the major championships. This time I was determined to prove I'm not a dog in the big ones."
Maybe Miller had something else to prove on Saturday. Miller and Player are not the largest fans of one another, and there has been this mild debate about who had the best season in 1974, Miller in America or Player in the world. Player has enjoyed pointing out to friends that while Miller won eight PGA Tour events last year, he, Player, beat Miller by a modest 39 strokes in the four major championships, winning two of them.
Well, Miller's Saturday 65 was not the final settling of any such debate, but it did make Player's 73 seem like 173 by contrast. Besides that, Miller's round might have been much, much lower. He was all over the hole on the back nine, and only one putt dropped. At the 17th, in fact, he had the ball three feet from the flag and it dived into the hole but spun out. It was clearly one of the landmark 18s ever fired on the Augusta National, and it put Miller in shape to add all sorts of thrills to Sunday's fury.
In the final analysis this was a Masters of unique scoring, basically because the greens were slower than ever. Too much rain throughout the winter was the official reason given, and too much rain earlier in the week. A real old-fashioned Augusta wind never came up, either. Hale Irwin's last-round 64, which matched the course record, furnished proof of this, and together with the other scoring, it gave an indication of how inviting the Augusta National would be for Nicklaus, Miller and Weiskopf when they got out there on it to thrash around and drive the world of golf utterly mad with suspense.
Other than the fact that he is probably inhuman when it comes to dealing with pressure and is beyond argument the greatest golfer mankind has produced, there is not much else to say about Jack Nicklaus. He loves his wife and kids, is loyal to his friends, he is kind to animals and he can recite the Preamble.
In a sense, if it hadn't been for the brave manner in which those glamorous losers performed and the promise they have, Nicklaus would be on the verge of destroying tournament golf. Why do you think that makes a good film, Manny?