Shortly after Brandel Chamblee noted on Golf Channel’s “Live From the US Open” that Phil Mickelson had brought “a flamethrower to the very PGA Tour that provided him with a grand stage to amass unimaginable wealth,” it became abundantly clear that Chamblee he had his own flamethrower in the form of his carefully crafted words. He took aim at Mickelson and other supporters of the Saudi-backed LIV golf league.
Chamblee has never been shy about sharing his opinion, but he has arguably been more outspoken in addressing the raging war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
Last week, Chamblee said LIV Golf’s debut near London made him “want to throw up”.
“When it comes to the richest sports stars in the world, Phil Mickelson ranks 11th. He’s ahead of Kobe Bryant, he’s ahead of David Beckham, he’s ahead of Kevin Durant, he’s ahead of Lewis Hamilton,” he said. Chamblee. “You’re talking about him being ahead of icons in sports that are much more popular around the world than the game of golf. And yet, why does golf have four of the highest-paid athletes of all time? Why is Phil Mickelson ranked 11th, in terms of the stratosphere that he occupies, as an athlete… than athletes who have made less money than him but play a sport that is much more popular? Why is that? It’s because of the image of the golfer.
“Because of its nature as an independent contract. Because they appear and, generally speaking, play a game that is self-governing and self-controlling. It’s an integrity game. It’s because corporations want to align themselves with these players. It’s because of the philanthropic aspect of the game of golf.
“So when I hear these players say they’re ‘growing the game’…it makes me want to throw up. They are destroying the game. And they are destroying their reputation.”
He concluded: “This is one of the saddest days in golf history. Seeing these players come together for money and show it to the world… shows us that they are the most greedy, selfish, selfish and willfully blind players in the world of golf today.”
In short, Brandel goes to Brandel and doesn’t beat around the bush. Chamblee picked up where he left off Monday during Golf Channel’s “Live From the US Open.” He directed much of his vitriol at Mickelson, who reportedly jumped into the Saudi league for $200 million.
On Mickelson’s performance in his pre-tournament press conference, Chamblee said: “He is suffering the consequences of a decision he made that some believe was bringing a flamethrower to the PGA Tour. By my count, there were 22 questions and not a single question about being the oldest major champion of all time, not a single question about trying to complete the Grand Slam of his career. It was about his decision to join a league that I think many see as a hostile takeover attempt.”
Phil Mickelson speaks at a press conference at the US Open at The Country Club. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
Chamblee noted that the Mickelson who burst onto the scene with his “high collar, cloying smile and playing golf with such glee” had changed. Chamblee highlighted an incident dating back to the 2014 Ryder Cup that gave golf fans an early glimpse into the character of a man who would be willing to get into bed with people that man described as “scary mother.”
“He’s been pretty successful in the media center manipulating everything he can, but there have been times over the years where he’s been atrocious in the media center. Most notably in 2014 at the Ryder Cup, where we got, I think, a real glimpse of who Phil Mickelson is. Machiavellian? Sure,” Chamblee said. “Blaming Tom Watson for his Ryder Cup failures, and then being asked by a member of the media after literally denigrating one of the game’s greats in front of the whole world, why would he do such a thing? He almost acted incredulous and said, ‘How can you take what I just did as a disparagement of Tom Watson?’ Everyone in that room knew what they were seeing. It was fake at best, but misleading more accurately describes it.”
“Nothing I’ve seen from Phil Mickelson from that moment to this moment has changed,” Chamblee added later. “It turns out that when you’re trying to sell a lie, it’s hard to talk very comfortably and easily.”
Chamblee did not spare other LIV dropouts, including Bryson DeChambeau, calling their comments inconsistent and giving the 2020 US Open champion a reprimand for the ages.
Bryson DeChambeau plays a shot during a practice round before the US Open at The Country Club on June 14, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Andres Redington/Getty Images)
“More recently, he has been talking about how he found God and became a Christian and I wonder how he manages to accept money from a regime that is anti-Christian,” Chamblee said. “You cannot get a Bible in Riyadh without going to jail. They are misogynists, they are anti-Semites, there is no freedom of expression. He talks about his charities, about going home to do things, but in the meantime he’s getting money from people who oppress the things he pretends to represent, which is philanthropic business. That’s where the money comes from. He says that he will have a new legacy. He will absolutely have a new legacy, and it will be tarnished like a 100-year-old silver trophy that hasn’t been touched up in a cupboard.”
That’s the kind of golf media comment directed at a player who is sorely missed. Later, when Jim Gallagher Jr. observed that everyone has a price, Chamblee returned to that comment, saying, “I’d like to think not. I’d like to think there are plenty of people with enough money to say no. There are plenty of people who have said no. … Rory (McIlroy) has said no. Justin Thomas has said no. I don’t think $200 million, I don’t think $500 million, I don’t think a billion dollars would make Rory say yes. I don’t think he does.
“Have they exposed a weakness? Yes, Ok. Many people can be paid enough money not to care how their wives would be treated in Saudi Arabia, not to care how women are treated in Saudi Arabia, not to care how homosexuals are treated , so they don’t care about people with no freedom of speech and no real freedom at all. There are people who will accept enough money to turn a blind eye to it. But I think there’s a lot of people saying wait a second, if you want to do this tour, let’s see real reform, let’s see real measured reform, let’s listen to the women of Saudi Arabia, let’s see pictures of them actually in Riyadh without a burqa, let me see them driving , let me see them out on a date, let me see them out golfing. Let me see a real measure reform. Let me see the freedom of expression.
“It will never happen there. Certainly not under the government of MBS, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. He couldn’t be more oppressive. He could not be more in favor of centralizing power within himself to an extent that has never happened in Saudi Arabia. There is no evidence of reform in that country. Zero, apart from his words, which were as empty as Phil’s in his press conference.”
That’s the best you get from a golf analyst giving a group of well-compensated, pampered golfers some pain for selling out and supporting the sportswear wash.
Chamblee also praised the high drama and sporting battle that was the final round of the RBC Canadian Open between eventual champion Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.
“It’s one of the most significant wins in the history of the game,” Chamblee argued. “It was almost as if they had taken it upon themselves to say that this is what the greatest pursuit in this sport looks like, this is what great competition looks like. It was almost as if they were saying to themselves: not under our clock, we are going to put on a great show to remind you how competitive the PGA Tour is and has been for all these years.”
“Live from the US Open” only kicks off this week, but Chamblee has already shown that he’s prepared to speak out on the tough topics shaking up the golf world and he’s not afraid to call it what he sees it.