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Missed Opportunity

NBC will be airing 16 hours of U.S. Open coverage from the Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club this weekend, more than for any other tournament, including roadblocking some of the coverage on a variety of platforms and airing two hours apiece on Thursday and Friday afternoon.

But even with all that real estate to fill and even though its lead golf analyst, Johnny Miller, shot a 63, the lowest final round in U.S. Open history to win the 1973 Open at that same Oakmont club, NBC said Tuesday it does not plan a feature or flashback segment on that magical round, when Miller birdied nine holes (he bogeyed one) on his way to victory.

In a conference call with Miller and reporters, an NBC exec said that with all the attention from other media outlets–HBO and Golf Channel wre cited, for example–showcasing Miller’s round would draw attention away from the 2007 tournament.

Miller did not offer any objection, though one wag on the call said there might be book to be made on when his round would first be mentioned during the coverage.

Frankly, I am disappointed. Miller didn’t miss a green in his final round masterpiece, but NBC is missing an opportunity. Miller is their guy, and his 63 was been hailed as the greatest round of major tournament golf in history.

We’re not talking about breaking into the news or Friday Night Lights to celebrate Miller’s round. But this is the same golf tournament on the same course called by the guy who did it. Come on, give him an "up close and personal." ABC would.

I was looking forward to one of those profile pieces talking to Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer about the round, then cutting in footage of the lanky, mop-topped Miller taking laser aim at greens with some of the greatest iron shots you will ever see, or in NBC’s case, not see.

As Miller himself conceded, his short game was nothing to write home about. But the difference between his irons and Michaelangelo’s chisels during that final round was negligible.

If the Peacock can’t crow over Miller, who can?

By John Eggerton