Brandel Chamblee blasts PGA Tour/LIV merger as one of ‘saddest days’ in golf history

brandel chamblee golf channel liv pga tour

Brandel Chamblee blasted the merger between the PIF and the PGA Tour Tuesday.

Golf Channel/NBC

It didn’t take long for Brandel Chamblee to find himself at the center of the most stunning about-face in professional history.

It was shortly after 10 a.m. ET when news first spread of a merger between the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour, and only a few minutes after when the dunking began.

Brooks Koepka, a LIV pro and Chamblee’s frequent sparring partner over the years, started the celebration.

“Welfare check on Chamblee,” he tweeted gleefully.

For the better part of two years and several weeks worth of live television hours, Chamblee had excoriated the funding behind LIV Golf, the PIF Fund. Now, he watched golf’s largest and most historic tour bend the knee to the same morally questionable financiers. Soon, the bot accounts followed Koepka’s lead, roiling in Chamblee’s moment of personal reckoning.

For a little while, it seemed as though Brandel might not appear at all. Golf Channel went on the air — commercial-free, mind you — from 10:30 until well after noon before host Rich Lerner first mentioned Chamblee’s name. We’d reached the 1 p.m. hour before Lerner confirmed his impending appearance on the network.

But then, at right around 2 p.m., Chamblee appeared for the first time, clad in a brown suit and a light-pink shirt. It was time, at long last, to face the music.

“When I first heard about it, I was completely shocked,” he said, beating around no bushes. “I can’t imagine that to many people outside of maybe the two or three or four or five people that were in the room that brought this merger to fruition would have known anything about it. After this shock sort of ebbed away, I was hugely disappointed.”

And then came the haymaker.

“I think this is one of the saddest days in the history of professional golf.”

As for responsibility, Chamblee pointed in the direction of Jay Monahan, who seemed to orchestrate the agreement in the eleventh hour behind the back of his professional constituency.

“I’m hugely disappointed and let down by [PGA Tour] leadership,” Brandel said. “One of the first things I thought about was, I wonder what Tiger and Rory and several other players who would have turned down 10s of if not hundreds of millions of dollars to go to LIV would’ve thought. They stood on principle, and they fought for the PGA Tour, and they fought for the betterment of the PGA Tour. And this just came out of nowhere. I would imagine this is going to be a very hard and long day for Jay Monahan.”

But viewers who’d tuned in to hear Chamblee red-faced and furious at the PGA Tour would leave the network unsatisfied. The rest of Chamblee’s appearance was decidedly more muted in tone, the crux of it hinging on his plea for professional golf to remain on its axis.

“In my view, this deal needs to meet three criteria,” he said. “First, will the philanthropic arm of the PGA Tour remain absolutely intact? Number two, will the integrity of professional golf remain intact? And number three, will the legacy of professional golf remain intact?”

Chamblee said his opinions were unchanged on the Public Investment Fund, even in the wake of the news it had joined forces with the PGA Tour. He pointed to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in addition to the Kingdom’s violent treatment of other marginalized groups as his reasoning for that opinion.

On his more recent LIV sparring partner Phil Mickelson, he offered a surprisingly conciliatory note.

“I’m sure he does [feel vindication] today,” Chamblee said. “But this isn’t about Phil and it isn’t about me. This is about the game. Will golf still have its integrity? This is so much bigger than any of us.”

Ultimately, Chamblee said, the biggest lesson of the day had nothing to do with himself, Koepka or Phil, but rather with the PIF, which could now have a claim to ownership over the world of pro golf.

“Will PIF be the owner of professional golf?” Chamblee asked. “You know, that was the first question that popped into my mind.”

MORE PGA TOUR-LIV MERGER COVERAGE: Player reaction | 21 burning questions & answers | 10 shocking revelations | How the merger came to be | Rory, Tiger left in the dark | PGA Tour-LIV Golf timeline | Can this happen? A legal expert weighs in | Jay Monahan defends decision

Exit mobile version