Brandel Chamblee: The Tiger Era Is Over
Decades from now, golf historians reflecting on the Tiger Woods era may mark its end in the middle of the year 2014 B.C.
The “B.C” stands for Brandel Chamblee.
In the wake Friday’s play at the British Open, in which Woods posted a 5-over 77, his second-worst major round in his career, GolfChannel’s Tripp Isenhour asked Chamblee whether Tiger’s struggles signified a so-called “changing of the guard.”
“There was a beginning of his career, middle of his career, and this is the end of his career, no question about it,” said Chamblee. “And if you want to qualify ‘era’ as dominance, then the Tiger era is over, and we’ll never see it again.”
Unlike some downfalls, Tiger’s wasn’t brought on by popular uprising, Chamblee said.
“I’d say this was a coup d’etat by self-immolation. We’re talking about a guy who has willfully dismantled a golf swing that made him the best player in the world. Saying ‘I want to get better’ is one thing. But most people say that because, well, they’re not good enough, and they’re not the best. Well, he was the best, and he willfully dismantled the golf swing that made him the best player in the world.”
Chamblee, a former Tour pro-turned-leading GolfChannel analyst, has rarely minced words when discussing Woods, a straight-shooting approach that has prompted his critics to cast him as a “Tiger hater,” but Chamblee insists that’s not the case.
“I find it very easy to be misunderstood on this,” Chamblee said. “When I say that I am sad to see him play golf the way he plays now, people say, ‘Well, you’re just a hater.’ Listen, if I hated him, I would enjoy watching him play golf the way he’s playing. I say it’s sad because I know what he can play like, as we all do.”
That Woods no longer dominates as he once did, Chamblee said, is a direct result of his choice to move away from what clearly worked.
“If he had never abandoned Butch Harmon’s swing or Hank Haney’s swing, either of them was good enough to ride into the sunset with 25 major championships.”
By contrast, Chamblee said, the swing Tiger has developed under Sean Foley “will not hold up like the one before.”
“Watching a guy swing that short and that quick and develop the yips — and there is no other word for it, the yips — with his driver, is really sad to see. And he is never, ever going to dominate with this move unless he changes it, because he still has between his ears what made him the best player of all time perhaps.”
That mental toughness, Chamblee said, might allow Woods to “kick and claw and scratch his way to another major or two, but would you call that the Tiger era?”