Fox Sports is in as the broadcast partner for the U.S. Open starting in 2015. Johnny Miller appears to be out.
In a surprising announcement Wednesday evening, the U.S. Golf Association said it has signed a 12-year multimedia deal with Fox network and Fox Sports 1 to be the domestic broadcast partner for the U.S. Open and other USGA championships.
NBC Sports had been televising the U.S. Open since 1995 at Shinnecock Hills, with Miller as its shoot-from-hip analyst who became as much of the show as the golf itself.
“It was a big bummer,” Miller told The Associated Press from his home in Utah. “For some reason, I told Dan Hicks at the U.S. Open this year, ‘I don’t think we’re going to keep the U.S. Open.’ I just had a hunch it would be ESPN or Fox that stepped in and made a high bid. I know we tried.
“I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew.”
The deal is for 12 years and runs through 2026. The first U.S. Open for Fox will be from Chambers Bay outside Seattle.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
NBC’s last U.S. Open will be next year at Pinehurst No. 2 — the U.S. Women’s Open will be played on the same course the following week.
“This is an exciting and remarkable day for the USGA, as our partnership with the Fox Sports is a game-changer for our organization and for the game of golf,” USGA President Glen Nager said. “The game is evolving and requires bold and unique approaches on many levels, and FOX shares our vision to seek fresh thinking and innovative ideas to deliver championship golf. This partnership will help us to better lead and serve the game in new and exciting ways.”
Along with NBC Sports televising the final two rounds — and two-hour segments on Thursday and Friday — ESPN showed the two opening rounds. NBC is under the same umbrella as Comcast, which also owns Golf Channel.
Under the deal, Fox Sports will deliver 146 hours of USGA golf. That includes at least 70 hours of its three biggest events — the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open. The other hours will be spent on amateur competitions, such as the U.S. Amateur and the new U.S. National Fourball Championship.
“It was the highlight of my year of work for me,” Miller said. “The U.S. Open has always been the tournament. It’s a big bummer for me and Dan Hicks.”
Fox did not say what kind of broadcast team it would have for the USGA championships. Miller said it was unlikely he would go to Fox even if offered a chance. He said his contract with NBC runs through 2015.
NBC has three FedEx Cup playoff events, the Ryder Cup, the Florida swing and Houston Open leading up to the Masters, and The Players Championship.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Miller said about Fox. “You can’t just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open. I guess the money was more important than the performance. No way they can step in and do the job we were doing. It’s impossible. There’s just no way. I wish Fox the very best.”