It is unusual for a superstar to miss the cut; when one of them does, he tends to bail out of town by the quickest route possible. But when Johnny Miller followed his opening-round 78 at Firestone with a 74 and got the ax, he went no further than his Akron motel. The next day he was back at the course hitting practice shots.
After winning three of this year's first five tournaments, he finished second at the Masters and third in the British Open. But Miller's only major championship was the 1973 U.S. Open. "The PGA is a big tournament to me, but even though I'd like to win it I'm never really up for it," said Miller on his way to church Sunday morning. "Every summer I go through the same kind of dry spell. Last year I played very, very badly from the Tournament of Champions in April to this same point. I didn't win a dime. But then I won Westchester, the World Open and the Kaiser, kind of a fast finish. I think that next summer I'll take a full month off. Instead of just going through the motions in the hot summer days, hacking around and letting it pull me down psychologically, I'll go home and relax."
Johnny Miller is not a brooder. On Saturday morning he rose at 5:30 and took his 5-year-old son John fishing. Then he lunched in the Firestone grill and, after the last threesome had gone off, he and his caddie, Andy Martinez, went to the practice tee where Miller hit three buckets of balls, more than he ordinarily hits in a month.
The problem he was working on began in April at Augusta National, a course that rewards the golfer who can draw the ball. Miller began hitting a hook there instead of his normal slight fade, and the new swing worked so well that, he says, "I never got around to changing back. It got so I couldn't quite remember what my old swing was like."
By late Saturday afternoon Miller had found it. "I'm glad in a way I've played so poorly the last two weeks. It was what I needed. I've made the change that was necessary and now it's just a case of grooving it. Now I almost can't wait to see how it works next week at Hartford."