Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee recently sat down for an extensive interview with Golf Magazine's Connell Barrett, and many of our readers followed up with questions of their own. Here are some of those questions and Chamblee's responses.
Brandel, I've been watching you for years, and it seemed that all of a sudden a few years ago you seemed to shift gears, and that strong 'opinionated,' forceful personality burst on the scene. How did that happen? Did you decide you had to 'let 'er fly' or did someone else say 'Crank 'er up a notch'? I like what you've done.
John Snowden, Hanover, Ontario, Canada
Are you outta your cotton-picking mind?!! I am not opinionated!! Ok, you got me. Masters 2007, I came off a show and thought, you gutless lamb, take a stand. The next day I did, and it felt more like me. More like when I'm home, in the kitchen with friends, laughing, arguing and yelling. That is what TV should be like. Of course, in the kitchen we never run out of beer. - B.C.
Brandel, what are the chances of Ernie Els finding his putter and winning a major in 2011? Gary Player said at the Nedbank Golf Challenge that Ernie should NEVER be outside the top 3 in the world ranking with his talent. His putter is weak, though, and the question is whether it will ever come back, especially at 42?
Ernie is such an easy guy to pull for and yes, I agree with Gary Player that he might be the most innately talented player in the game for the last 20 years. However, it is very difficult to play to the best of your ability when off-course distractions rob you of your motivation. Ernie Els's son being diagnosed with autism, and his subsequent desire to get involved with the many charities to fund research on this dreadful affliction, have no doubt been a pull on the white hot focus it takes to compete at the highest level. Still, Ernie has managed six top 10s in majors in the last four years, and at 42 he very likely has another few years to add to his total of three. - B.C.
You mentioned Alex Miceli's exchange with Tiger in your last article: ''Tiger had been slumping. Alex meant to say, 'Tiger, you went from being the best player in the world to really stinking it up,' but he was nervous Tiger makes the media very nervous and [Alex] kind of choked, bumbled it and said, 'Tiger, you went from the best player in the world to the worst player.' And Tiger said, 'I know one thing; I could still beat you.''
On paper this exchange comes across as nasty, but I've seen footage of that press conference and Tiger was trying to be funny, not nasty. He smiled as soon as he said the comment and the whole press conference room laughed. I feel you're twisting a scenario to fit your criticism of him, which isn't fair.
I have all too often watched as well intentioned media members have asked thoughtful questions of Tiger only to have them batted down or scoffed at when it would take less energy to simply give a civil answer. In citing Alex's question, as wide of the mark as it was, I was just offering one example of the many opportunities that Tiger has had to turn the media in his direction. Tiger's response to the question, while eliciting a laugh, missed the point of the question, which is what Tiger seems to take great pride in doing.
You may ask why Tiger owes us anything other than his golf, and that is a fair point, but if he is going to try to pass himself off as a marketable product, and in the process take huge endorsement fees that are generated from cleverly crafted ads, then he should not then go into the media room and be a different person. It's as if he and his management group are content with taking the money but not paying the bill, which would mean dealing with all that comes with crafting an image of wide appeal. - B.C.
Why do professionals have such a fit over stray noises, such as a camera? It just seems absurd that the kind of concentration that is required for golf can be so easily broken.
There is one example of golfers playing amidst the chaos of thousands of fans without being bothered the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Open. It is the most fun hole in golf and perhaps we need more holes like that on Tour. Remember your criticism, though, the next time you're trying to thread a needle and your 3-year-old starts throwing a fit. Tedious effort is usually accompanied by decorum. Golf is meant to be a game of focus, strategy and concentration, and all that requires quiet in the same way that taking an SAT or any contest of the mind does. - B.C.
In 2009 my wife and I visited the World Golf Hall of Fame, and we were dismayed and furious that a serious omission was made. How can the Turnesa family be excluded? Seven brothers, six professionals and 'Willie the Wedge,' the lone amateur. Why are they not in?
Vincent J. Daraio
As a group, the Turnesa brothers represent the most impressive golfing DNA in the history of the game. Old and young Tom Morris and old and young Willie Park won majors, though, and with the exception of Jim Turnesa (1952 PGA Championship), the Turnesa brothers had a dearth of success in the game's biggest events. That's probably because most of them competed in the 20s against Bobby Jones, who didn't leave much on the table for anyone else. Joe won 14 times and had two second-place finishes in majors. Jim won one other Tour event besides the aforementioned major, and Mike won six times. He, of course, is the grandfather to current Tour player Marc. None of these accomplishments when considered individually warrants admission to the Hall of Fame, but as a group they represent a very curious footnote to the history of golf in the United States. As such, they should be considered under a designation similar to the one that allows for writers or architects to be admitted. - B.C.
I'm tired of everyone acting like Tiger is 'huge.' He went from 165 pounds to 185. At 6'1' or 6'2' he's not linebacker size. Heck, he's barely kicker size for the pros, where receivers and corners are 200-pounds-plus. Tiger is a normal size guy with an athletic physique. How does that hurt his game when the game is played 90% between the ears? I don't need Tiger to be classy or nice, that's not why I like to watch his game. It's for the 'I can't do what he does factor.' I don't get jealous or envious like the author. That's my beef with all those jumping off the bandwagon.
My contention is that Tiger had speed in 2000, and that he has replaced it with strength in 2010. He had advantages in length, because of that speed, over the entire golfing world, which translated into intimidation and dominating wins. When you say golf is played between the ears, where do you think intimidation lives?
You ask how this conversion from speed to strength hurt his game. The answer: In almost every conceivable way. Having said that, he still has the best golfing mind of this generation and is capable, even in his attenuated state, of producing the best golf of anyone on the planet by a wide margin. You did hit the nail on the head in one respect, though. I am jealous of his talents and envious of his golfing magic. I have pleaded with the golfing gods to let me play one week, one hole or even one shot like Tiger. Alas, they didn't listen.
I consider myself lucky to get to watch Tiger play golf as I never saw Bobby Jones or Ben Hogan play, and I only caught Jack Nicklaus at the end of his career. I hope Tiger dazzles us for another decade or so, and if he does, I will be among those on the edge of my seat in great appreciation of what a human being is capable of at the highest level of achievement. - B.C.
TW didn't change his body for no reason. He did it because the swing under Butch Harmon was damaging his body, but also because it was limited by timing and wouldn't last the rest of his career. You know this, as you've stated it before. It begs the question, why would you then give an interview where you completely ignore this.
Also, if you're trapping the ball, you are not necessarily trying to bring the ball down. Hunter Mahan, J.R. and Sean O'Hair are not always hitting the ball low. You get this stuff, so why would you talk such rubbish?
First, let's address Tiger's 2000 swing damaging his body, being too reliant on timing and not lasting. I have to say that while I have spoken about his lack of forward movement with his left hip coming into the ball, and the subsequent snapping of the left leg being of some trouble to Tiger, I have never said that this move was too dependent on timing or that it wouldn't last. On the contrary, his swing was one of the few in the history of the game that produced both power and accuracy.
Throughout history there have been those who have hit it long without great accuracy, for example John Daly, George Bayer, Mike Souchak. All were wonderful players but not the straightest of drivers. There have been those who hit it deadly straight but couldn't hit the ball long, for example Calvin Peete, Fred Funk and Mike Reid. Very few players in their careers were both ridiculously long and straight, which is the dream of every golfer. Jack Nicklaus was throughout his career, as was Bobby Jones by all accounts. Ben Hogan is said to have been long, but I find it difficult to believe he hit the ball as long as has been stated, if for no other reason than his lack of height and small physical size. Greg Norman was long and straight. A man by the name of Dave Thomas, who played the European tour, is considered by many to be the best driver who ever lived, meaning very long and very straight.
From 1999-2002, Tiger was as long and straight as anyone in the history of the game. I am not stating an opinion here; please look for yourself at the PGA Tour statistics. He hit more than 70% of fairways while being among the distance leaders, and he hit as many as 75% of the greens. His plane was, in my opinion, perfect for a man of his height and build, and the statistics bore this out. I do not think his swing was reliant on great timing, as stated by shanehomersimpson, but rather on great fundamentals. Whether his knee was damaged through vigorous exercise, injury, or his move into the ball, I don't know. But I do know that he could have corrected his lack of lateral slide into the ball and snapping his left knee without altering his swing plane.
Lastly, you seem to have a great understanding of the game, and while trapping the ball doesn't necessarily mean a lower ball flight, hanging left and a flatter backswing and follow through most certainly do, and that is what I see Tiger doing now. - B.C.
With the HSBC Champions Tournament in China counting as an official win (if a player is on the PGA Tour) now, do you think the Tour or commissioner will give official win credits to past winners? The last few years the field has been quite strong. Secondly, do you agree that the Chevron Challenge and the Nedbank, with only 18- and 12-man fields, should have given out World Ranking points? To me, if you're giving out world ranking points for those kinds of fields, then for sure the HSBC Champions winners should get official credit.
In general I would say that I think it is wrong to offer world ranking points for events where it is impossible to finish out of the top 20, like the Chevron or Nedbank. In giving the points, however, it definitely adds to the excitement of those events and makes it easier to attract the game's best players, which makes for compelling TV. Case in point was this year's Chevron. I also do not see the PGA Tour retroactively awarding wins to the past HSBC winners. - B.C.
Do you think Johnny Miller owes Phil an apology for saying if he couldn't chip he would be selling cars in San Diego? I still like Johnny, but I think he should apologize. I think he went over the line. I know you say an analyst can say anything when the golfer is in the ropes, but did you think that crossed a line?
I have to say that I applaud the effort made by Johnny to think of another way of saying how good Phil is around the greens. Think about it. You're in the booth and Phil is about to hit a chip, and you want to put into perspective just how good he is. You can quote a statistic, you can describe the action, or you can exaggerate to make a point. What will people remember? What will best make your point? What will add to the viewers' appreciation of the skill and the shot? Now ask yourself, would anything less have compelled you to write in and ask this question? Probably not. TV is entertainment, after all, and like him or not Johnny is entertaining. I think Phil knows this as well as anyone and would harbor no ill will toward Johnny for this comment, although he probably rolled his eyes. - B.C.