Johnny ‘The Mouth’ Miller is under fire again, the furore this time being sparked by comments he made at the US Open

Johnny ‘The Mouth’ Miller is under fire again, the furore this time being sparked by comments he made at the US Open that were seen as being ethnically unkind and insensitive.
The controversial NBC golf analyst has come in for a pounding by the US media for describing Rocco Mediate as someone “who looks like the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool’ and later saying “Guys with a name like Rocco don’t get on the Trophy”.
This during the final day of the US Open at Torrey Pines two weeks ago when Mediate, a 45-year-old golfing journeyman qualifier then listed in the 100s in the World Rankings, stepped out of the shadows and heroically took Woods into a sudden-death play-off before finally succumbing to the enormous pressure that goes with challenging the iron-willed World No 1 in the toughest major in the game
Miller subsequently issued a statement apologizing for his description of Mediate, who is of Italian descent, saying that his comments had nothing to do with Mediate’s ethnicity and were used in a light-hearted manner to convey his affection and admiration for Mediate’s humble demeanor and “Everyman qualities”.
Miller might consider himself a little lucky that Mediate, being the gracious and unforgiving individual that he is, is pouring water on the latest Miller controversy.
“What he said doesn’t bother me at all, Mediate told the media at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic at Rhode Island on Monday.
“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose,” Mediate added in an attempt to indicate that Miller did not intend to hurt him.
Mediate described Miller as “quite a good announcer because he speaks his mind and said that he planned to reply to a voicemail sent to him by Miller.
Miller, himself a former US Open champion who was briefly one of the best golfers in the world during his relatively short professional career, is indeed one of the best TV analysts in the game, often saying things that we would love to say ourselves, but don’t because we have long ago learnt that there are some things that can be said and some that can’t – and especially in the good ol’ USA where treading the path of politically correctness can be like walking in a minefield.
Yet, although he is too often tactless and unaware of the impact of his words, he is also often right, and without wanting to being unkind to the gallant, ever-smiling Mediate, I have to say that I didn’t see a US Open champion in him either, if only because of his subservient attitude to Tiger.
And talking of Tiger, by the way, I wonder if Miller would have said that “Guys with the name of Tiger don’t get on the Trophy” if the two men in that final grouping at Torrey Pines had been Rocco Woods, the world No 1 and two time winner, and Tiger Mediate. the complete outsider who at 45 had to qualify?
But when you talk of unusual nicknames and the names engraved on the trophy, Miller seems to have been right again.’
Except for Tiger and Fuzzy (Zoeler, 1984), and perhaps Orville (Moody 1969), Hale (Irwin 1974, ’79 and ’90) and Retief (Goosen 2001 and ’04) the others are all as straight forward and as conservative as you can get.
There is a Tom (Watson), a Dick (Mayer), and a Harry (Vardon), a John (McDermot), a host of Johnnys (Miller included) and a Jack (Nicklaus).
Bobby (Jones), Billy (Casper) and Willy (Anderson) are other pretty common men’s names that have made it on to the hallowed US Open trophy as are Ben (Hogan), Walter (Hagen), David (Graham), Gary (Player), Tony (Jacklin), Ernie (Els), Jim (Furyk), Michael (Campbell) and Geoff (Ogilvy).
Angel (Cabrera) isn’t very common in the USA, but there are a host of them in Spain and Argentina.
So what does all this mean?
For instance do Luke Donald and Paul Casey, who both have traditional biblical first-names, have a greater chance of putting a rare British name on the trophy than say American young guns like Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley.
We’ll have to wait and see – and with Tiger back again next year – it could be a long wait
Neville Leck