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It’s Miller, Miller, Miller time when BYU tees off

SHARE It’s Miller, Miller, Miller time when BYU tees off

A modern version of "My Three Sons" is a feature presentation on the BYU campus this fall, where Scott, Andy and Todd Miller are starring for the Cougar golf team.

That's right, Scott, Andy and Todd are all sons of Johnny Miller, who helped bring national fame to the school in the late 1960s before going onto greatness on the PGA Tour. Now his three sons are key components of a deep Cougar team that may be the school's first legitimate NCAA championship contender in more than a decade."It's fun to have them, it's exciting," said BYU golf coach Bruce Brockbank. "They're all very competitive and not imtimidated by anything. They are relentless workers."

The three Millers are a year apart in school but are separated by two-year gaps in age. Scott is 22, but only a sophomore because he went on an LDS mission, returning last winter. Andy is 20 and a junior, while Todd is an 18-year-old freshman.

Of the three young Millers, Andy looks the most like his dad, especially if you compare old photos of Johnny when he was in college. He's also the blondest of the bunch. Scott is sporting a buzz these days showing dark roots and is more filled out than the others, while the skinny Todd has dark brown hair like his mother, Linda.

It's logical to assume that the three boys had their arms twisted by their father to attend BYU, especially after the oldest Miller son, John Jr., decided to attend San Jose State a decade ago and later regretted it. But each says their parents left it up to them and each chose BYU, turning down offers from more prominent golf schools.

Scott came to BYU in 1994, not highly recruited after a decent, but not outstanding, junior career. He played in about half the tournaments as a freshman and came on strong late in the season to contribute to the Cougars' 1995 WAC championship.

Then he went on an LDS mission to Kentucky, where he played less than a half a dozen rounds of golf. He returned last December and redshirted during the spring season. At one point he considered giving up competitive golf, but he gradually got his game back and has been a unexpected addition to this fall's team.

"I didn't see him in the mix at all," said Brockbank. "He qualified for the first tournament and finished second overall. He has been a pleasant surprise for us."

Andy considered offers from golf powers such as Arizona, Stanford and UNLV before deciding on BYU. As a freshman he won the Western Athletic Conference individual title, something his father never even accomplished. He has played in several national tournaments and this summer made it to the third round of the U.S. Amateur.

Todd was looking at USC and Arizona State, but five minutes into his recruiting visit at BYU he informed Brockbank that he was going to be a Cougar. "I looked at USC, but I was pretty positive I wanted to go to BYU and play with my brothers," he said.

This past summer he played in the prestigious Canon Cup featuring the best junior golfers in the country and he defeated the No. 1 junior in the country to give the West a tie with the East.

It's also logical to assume that Johnny put clubs in his boys' hands while they were still in diapers and pushed them toward golf careers like a lot of parents are doing these days in trying to mold the next Tiger Woods.

Sorry, that wasn't the case at all.

"My father is a wonderful golf teacher, but he never forced it on us," said Scott. "He encouraged us to play if we wanted, but it was totally our decision."

The boys lived in Salt Lake until 1989 when they moved to their current home in Napa, Calif. They played in a few tournaments, but weren't that serious about the game, mostly playing for fun at the Cottonwood Club near their home.

Todd has few memories of playing golf in Utah except this one - "I remember always losing to Boyd Summerhays," he said of his junior golf experiences when he was 8 or 9. Summerhays, of course, was a top junior golfer, who is currently on an LDS mission after playing at Oklahoma State for a year.

Once the Millers moved to California, they became more serious about the game. There, they could play year-round, and their grandfather, Larry Miller (Johnny's dad, not the Jazz owner), spent a lot of time with them, honing their games.

Since they are so close in age and basically started at the same time, they have been extremely competitive for the past decade. Now that competitive upbringing is paying off as they try and make the starting team (top five) at BYU for each tournament (college golf has a fall and spring season).

This year's Cougar team has nine players that are extremely close in ability. Besides the three Millers, there's Matt Thurmond, a senior from Seattle; Jesse Hibler, a junior from Boise; Jose Garrido, a junior from Colombia; Shaun Jepsen, a junior from Bountiful; Billy Harvey, a sophomore from Las Vegas; and Manuel Merizalde, a freshman from Colombia.

"It's a lot tougher to make the team than it is to play in the tournaments," says Brockbank.

Scott and Todd didn't qualify and had to stay home from the trip to Oregon earlier this week, but each is determined to play in next week's tournament in Fresno.

"It's unbelievable how competitive it is," says Scott. "If you don't shoot under par in the qualifyings, you're staying home."

Johnny, who is busy designing golf courses and working as an announcer for NBC, makes every effort to come to his sons' tournaments, where he'll follow them around trying to keep track how each of them is doing.

"He'd rather watch them than do anything else," says Brockbank. "He gets so excited out there, running around and trying to keep score."

So who's the best of the three Millers? If you ask each of the brothers, none will take the bait. They'll just say they're all competitive and can beat each other on a given day.

Johnny has said more than once that Todd has the potential to be the best, but that may be based on the fact that Todd has played at a higher competitive level from a younger age than his brothers.

Andy is actually the most accomplished of the three with that WAC individual championship to his credit as well earning third-team all-American honors twice. However, Scott has outperformed both of his brothers so far this fall (72.8 stroke average compared to 72.9 for Andy and 74.1 for Todd).

While the Millers thrive on competition, they also revel in each other's success.

"We have our share of smack talk, but it's all fun and games," says Andy. "My grandpa tells us constantly to pull for each other and if we keep on pulling for each other we'll make each other better and succeed at the highest level."

Who knows, perhaps someday all three of Johnny's sons will succeed at the highest level as players on the PGA Tour. But before that happens, they're likely to bring the same kind of national recognition to BYU as their father did three decades earlier.



The Miller boys: a comparison

Name Age Class Ht. Wt. Golf strengths Needs work on

Scott Miller 22 Soph.* 6-0 185 Driving, ball-striking Consistency

Andy Miller 20 Jr. 6-0 178 Short irons, creativity Putting

Todd Miller 18 Fr. 6-0 163 Accuracy, consistency Length

*-Went on LDS mission