Chamblee stands by Tiger grade and comments

By Doug FergusonOctober 22, 2013, 6:00 pm

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee says he insinuated that Tiger Woods cheated and gave the world's No. 1 player an ''F'' for his five-win season in a column he wrote for Golf.com because ''ethics matter more than athletics.''

Chamblee saved Woods for last in his report card of 14 players in a column posted last week. He told of getting caught cheating on a math test in the fourth grade, and how the teacher crossed a line through his ''100'' and gave him an ''F.''

Chamblee followed that anecdote by writing, ''I remember when we only talked about Tiger's golf. I miss those days. He won five times and contended in majors and won the Vardon Trophy and ... how shall we say this ... was a little cavalier with the rules.'' He then gave Woods a ''100'' with a line through it, followed by the ''F.''

Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management, the agent for Woods, was so incensed that he released a statement to ESPN.com that accused Chamblee of a desperate attempt to garner attention. In an interview with ESPN.com, Steinberg said he would ''have to give some thought to legal action.''

Steinberg did not reply to an email from The Associated Press.

No other golfer evokes such a mixture of praise and criticism than Woods, the main attraction of any sport for nearly 20 years. Chamblee's column struck a nerve with many, however, because of the implication that three rules violations and a penalty drop involving Woods amounted to cheating – the strongest accusation possible in golf.

Woods accepted a two-shot penalty in Abu Dhabi for taking relief from an embedded ball in a sandy area covered with vegetation. Augusta National gave him a two-shot penalty for taking the wrong drop in the second round of the Masters. And the PGA Tour gave him a two-shot penalty after his second round of the BMW Championship when video evidence showed that his ball moved slightly from behind the first green.

Also in question – at least on Internet blogs – was the drop Woods took on the 14th hole of the TPC Sawgrass during the final round of The Players Championship. Woods checked with playing partner Casey Wittenberg on where to take the penalty drop, which is standard procedure. Wittenberg said it was the correct spot.

Chamblee never says outright he thinks Woods cheated. That was by design.

''I think 'cavalier with the rules' allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW video,'' Chamblee said Tuesday in an email to the AP. ''My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I complete the test. But she was writing to one, and as I was writing to many, I felt it important to allow for the doubt some might have, so I chose my words accordingly.

''What people want to infer about that is up to them,'' he said. ''I have my opinion, they can form theirs.''

Video shows Woods' ball move as he tried to remove a small branch from in front of it at the BMW Championship. He maintained it only wobbled and returned to its original position. Woods watched the video in the rules trailer after the round, but still maintained it only oscillated. The tour docked him two shots.

''I don't feel I'm the one that needs to justify the 'F.' The BMW video does it for me, followed by Tiger's silence - until confronted - and then by his denials in the face of incontestable evidence to the contrary of his petitions,'' Chamblee said. ''To say nothing of the fact that he was disrespecting his position in golf, the traditions of golf and his fellow competitors, in my opinion.''

Chamblee, who has developed a reputation of being critical of Woods' swing and golf game, is a contributor to ''SI Golf Plus,'' which is not affiliated with Golf Channel.

Golf Channel declined to comment.

''I suspected there would be the usual assortment of divisive banter about me giving Tiger an 'F,' but as it turns out, it was a slow week in golf, so with no much to do, my column got more attention than it should have,'' Chamblee said.

He was most surprised by Steinberg's comments to ESPN.com.

Woods' longtime agent told the website, ''There's nothing you can call a golfer worse than a cheater. This is the most deplorable thing I have seen. I'm not one for hyperbole, but this is absolutely disgusting. Calling him a cheater? I'll be shocked, stunned, if something is not done about this. Something has to be done. There are certainly things that just don't go without response. It's atrocious. I'm not sure if there isn't legal action to be taken. I have to give some thought to legal action.''

Asked if he was rattled by Steinberg's consideration of legal action, Chamblee replied, ''No.''

''I thought it incomprehensible that anyone with the slightest understanding of libel laws wouldn't know the definition of and the difference between libel and opinion,'' Chamblee said.

Woods was voted PGA Tour player of the year by his peers for the 11th time. He is not expected to play again until a European Tour event Nov. 7-10 in Turkey, followed by his Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Dec. 5-8 in California.

Chamblee said he did not consider whether the column would jeopardize - or enhance - his position at Golf Channel.

''I'm paid to have and give an opinion, and I work hard to form those opinions based upon facts, not agenda,'' he said. ''I don't always get it right but I'm always trying to get it right. And I know the people I work for know that.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.