There he goes again. I’m speaking of the uber-opinionated Brandel Chamblee when writing off Jordan Spieth before he teed off two Thursdays ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In an interview with Golfweek’s Adam Schupak, Chamblee said this: “Spieth is headed into oblivion. That’s hard to turn that ship around.” After Saturday’s round where Spieth shot a 10-under 61 after a pair of 67s, Schupak reached out to Chamblee for a comment. “I wasn’t too sanguine about his comeback….I can’t remember a person being in the lead position in a golf tournament being dead last in fairways hit and next-to-last in distance from the edge of the fairway. That’s unprecedented.”
Chamblee went on to say: “…He’s become hugely inaccurate, which is usually a prelude to an irrecoverable slump, at least for a period of time.” He then compared Spieth’s travails with the driver with those of Ian-Baker Finch, David Duvall and even Ralph Guldahl. “Those are slumps that players never recovered from.”
Although Chamblee admires Spieth as a competitor and recognizes his short game wizardry, his assessment of Spieth’s future seemed particularly harsh and premature. It reminded me when Tiger Woods was going through his chipping and yipping woes several years back. Chamblee said at the time he couldn’t remember any player coming back from those afflictions. As it turned out, those chipping faults were directly related to Tiger’s back issues that essentially caused him to flinch with pain in that delicate position.
As an analyst and commentator, Chamblee is paid to opine and stake out his ground. He did the same at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines when questioning the judgment of Patrick Reed when he took a legal drop during the third round. But he didn’t give Reed the benefit of the doubt which troubled many. In some ways, I admire Chamblee and how he avoids the safe PGA Tour-speak so commonly heard on telecasts. He’s mindful of Johnny Miller who spoke to the television audience without worrying about ruffling the feathers of golf’s ruling bodies and even the players themselves.
But when Spieth had another successful tournament this past week at Pebble Beach, proving to many he’s far from “oblivion,” it was tempting to offer Chamblee some relish while he was eating crow.
Images courtesy of Golf Channel and the PGA Tour.