Brandel Chamblee-Brad Faxon Ryder Cup debate got tense Sunday night
But during Golf Channel’s Sunday evening “Live From” broadcast, in the wake of Brooks Koepka’s fifth major championship victory, the atmosphere on set got a little awkward when Chamblee went toe-to-toe with Brad Faxon on the issue of whether or not Koepka — or any LIV Golf member — deserves a chance to play in the upcoming Ryder Cup. Faxon was the first to weigh in.
“I look at Brooks as a guy that — he lives down in Jupiter, Fla., where Justin Thomas is, Dustin Johnson is, Rory is, Keegan is. It seems like the whole golfing world and many of the players that are going to play on either side of the Ryder Cup team,” Faxon began. “When you talk about the LIV golfers that left the PGA Tour to go over play there, you never hear a bad word from those players about Brooks Koepka. I think Brooks would be a fantastic addition to the team, particularly inside the locker room. [Team USA captain] Zach [Johnson] would be foolish not to consider him.”
Chamblee wasted no time responding.
“The reasons for him to be on the team are pretty obvious, right,” he said. “He’d make the team better. He’d make the Ryder Cup more compelling. But the reasons for him not to be on the team I think are pretty obvious, too.
“Don’t you think it would be a bit of a slap in the face to the players that didn’t go, that didn’t take the money and go to LIV, that somebody who took the money could now have their cake and eat it too?” Chamblee continued. “And in playing on the Ryder Cup team, would it not in some way elevate LIV, make it more legitimate? And LIV, by the way, is involved in and actively suing the PGA Tour, at enormous expense to the PGA Tour. And that expense and money is coming out of the PGA Tour players’ pockets. So how do you feel about those two?”
“I’m the biggest advocate of the PGA Tour,” Faxon replied. “I served on the Players Policy Board three different times. I can’t stand that this infiltrated our game in a way.”
Faxon then credited the major championship organizers — the Masters committee, the USGA, the PGA of America — as setting the tone in dealing with LIV. If you qualify, you play, regardless of your Tour affiliation.
“The PGA of America runs the Ryder Cup,” Faxon said. “I don’t think this has anything to do — they’re not playing for money at the Ryder Cup, Brandel. They’re playing for their country. He’s an American.”
“They’re playing for their country,” Chamblee repeated. “They’re not playing for their tour. They’re playing for their country. There’s certainly a sense that the Europeans are playing for their tour. I think you’re right. You make a reasonable point. They’re not playing for their tour. They’re just playing for their country.”
“Well, they’re playing golf,” Faxon said, eliciting a silent stare from Chamblee as a couple beats of silence lay between them.
Both men seemed to recognize the intensity and awkwardness of the moment, because they then smiled at each other and Faxon broke the ice.
“We standoff here,” he said.
Faxon then acknowledged that it’s a hard decision, and he doesn’t know if there’s a right answer.
It’s a topic that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, as the Ryder Cup, which will be played this September in Rome, Italy, draws near.
When U.S. captain Zach Johnson was asked for his thoughts on having LIV golfers like Koepka on the team, he said he wouldn’t ban a LIV golfer who qualified for the team, but it was “too premature and frankly irresponsible” to speculate on that scenario at this time. Johnson will have six captain’s picks to make later this summer.
You can watch Chamblee and Faxon’s entire Ryder Cup discussion on Sunday’s “Live From” here.