And on the 7th you get lucky. You hit a three-wood to guide it up the narrow fairway but the pitching wedge from a bad lie is terrible, not even on the green, but puttable. So from 35 feet you calmly watch it ramble its way into the hole.
"After the birdie at the 6th," Miller said, "I started thinking, 'Hey, this isn't so shabby a round.' I really started the day just trying to play myself back among the top 15 in the tournament."
He also said, "I had the 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. The press has been on me a little bit about that."
Maybe Johnny had something else to prove on Saturday. He was paired with Gary Player, which led to the joke that the Masters had put them together in what would be a "God-off." Miller and Player are not the largest fans of one another, and on top of that 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, Gary, 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 in 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.
All in all, it was clearly one of the landmark 18s ever fired on the Augusta National, and it put Johnny 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 so much 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, that matched the course record, and which leaped him over dozens of people and into a fourth-place tie with the first-round leader, Bobby Nichols, furnished proof of this, together with the other scoring, and it also gave an indication of how inviting the Augusta National would be for Nicklaus, Miller and Weiskopf when they would get 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, Jack Nicklaus would be on the verge of destroying tournament golf. Why do you think that makes a good film, Manny?