If Johnny Miller were a betting man, he said this afternoon, he would bet on himself to win the Bob Hope Desert Classic.
It would have been a good investment, too, because he performed one of his theatrical finishes, shooting 63, nine under par for the Indian Wells Country Club course„ and won the five‐round tournament.
Miller had entered the closing round in what he called “super shape” because this is one of his most comfortable tournaments and he was delighted to discover, “with all the mistakes” he had made, that he was only two shots behind the leader.
It also helped that a dear little old lady collared him last Monday and told him she had dreamed he would win the Hope.
“That’s great,” he told her. “It’s a good sign.”
It was his second straight victory in the Hope. Miller finished with a 90‐hole aggregate of 344, 16 under par for the four courses over which the five‐day tournament was played.
He ended up With a threeshot margin over Rik Massengale, who has won one tournament in his five years on the pro tour. Massengale shot a fine 67 in the closing round, but Miller kept keeping him back with one birdie after another.
Altogether, Miller shot nine birdies and Massengale five, three of them in succession; neither carded any bogeys.
Brian (Buddy) Allin, who shared the lead or held it alone the first three days, finished third at 348.
Jim Colbert shot a 64, with a record 28 on the back nine, to tie for fourth with Jerry Heard and David Newquist.
Colbert’s 28 was fashioned from Eagles on two par‐5 holes, where he reached the greens each time in 2, and on four birdies. On the 465‐yard 10th hole, he hit a 5‐iron to three feet from the cup and on the 462‐yard 18th he hit a 1‐iron to three feet.
Billy Casper, the leader going into today’s final round, lost his putting touch, the best part of his game, and closed out with a 74 and ninth place. When he knocked in a birdie putt on the sixth, he applauded himself.
Jack Nicklaus, tied for second coming into the closing round, could not get anything going no matter what he tried. He did not shoot a birdie until the 16th, and he needed that just to offset an earlier bogey, to finish at par 72. He tied Lee Elder for seventh.
The Hope Is easy pickings for Miller. He won it last year at 21 under par and in the three preceding years he had tied for third, second and fourth.
Today’s victory was his second of the season: he won the Tucson Open on Jan. 11. The victory brought his total American victories to 17 since he joined the tour in 1969.
Miller started the day at seven under par, two strokes behind Casper and one behind Nicklaus and Massengale. He immediately pulled up even with Casper with birdies on the first and second holes and then Casper let the lead go with a bogey at the fourth.
Miller shared the lead for one hole (the seventh) with Alin, but after he birdied No. 8, he went in front and stayed there all the way home.
By: John A Radosta