Johnny Miller on Justin Thomas' 63: 'Hats off' but 'you can't compare it'

Justin Thomas-US Open AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Johnny Miller on Justin Thomas' 63: 'Hats off' but 'you can't compare it'

Golf

Johnny Miller on Justin Thomas' 63: 'Hats off' but 'you can't compare it'

ERIN, Wis.—Johnny Miller’s 63 is still a round for the ages in Johnny’s mind.

Exactly 44 years to the day Miller shot his 8-under-par 63 at Oakmont, Miller was at Erin Hills on Saturday when Justin Thomas posted a 9-under-par 63, breaking the record for lowest U.S. Open round in relation to par.

Miller had left for the airport a little more than an hour before Thomas broke the mark. The 1973 U.S. Open champion was participating in fan Q&As for Lexus and the U.S. Golf Association.

Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller finished the 1973 U.S. Open with a 63 to win the championship. (AP)

“Hats off to him, it’s a great round.” Miller said via phone as he was headed to Utah for Father’s Day. “Justin Thomas is a streak player and I was a streak player. He’s swings aggressively.”

Gracious and even seeing similarities in Thomas’ game with his style, Miller couldn’t help but wonder if the course setup was more Tour event than U.S. Open.

“It’s a great round and nine under is amazing in U.S. Open pressure,” he said. “But you can’t really compare it considering the width of the courses. The setup is more like a tough tour event than a U.S. Open course.”

Miller pointed out that the course was softened by rains and set up cautiously by the USGA.

“We had two other guys shoot in the 60s that day,” Miller said. “Today they had how many shoot in the 60s? So you can’t really compare Erin Hills to the setup at Oakmont.”

Saturday, there were 18 rounds in the 60s at the par-72 Erin Hills.

Miller took nothing away from Thomas’ round or Erin Hills, but remained consistent with his views in recent years that the traditional U.S. Open course setup faced by his era is not the same today.

“It’s a good golf course, it’s just that the way it was set up made it gettable,” he said. “If they would have had 26-, 27-yard wide fairways it would be one of the toughest courses they’ve ever played.

“And the greens are absolutely beautiful, but not too difficult to putt.”

Miller first saw Erin Hills last summer and watched enough coverage this week to detect something he couldn’t recall from his era.

“No one is complaining,” he said. “You know every year I played the U.S. Open everyone complained Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that his course is too hard.”

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