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Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee has been the loudest, most consistent critic of LIV Golf since the circuit’s conception.
Chamblee despises the fact that LIV is solely funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) and has shouted about it being nothing but sportswashing from day one while reminding the public of Saudi Arabia’s deplorable human rights record.
While there are a number of folks to point the finger at for creating this new world of professional golf, Chamblee has had his sights set on one man, Phil Mickelson.
Phil Mickelson Has Gone From ‘The Man’ To ‘The Worst’ For Many
In the span of just over two years, Mickelson has become one of the most-beloved golfers to ever play the game to one of the most-divisive professional athletes in the world. From his comments about the Saudis being “scary motherf-ckers” while admitting that being a frontman for LIV serves as leverage for real change to happen on the PGA Tour in the next breath, he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
One could argue that Mickelson has lost quite a bit over the last two years since becoming a mouthpiece for LIV. He’s lost plenty of fans, countless endorsement opportunities, burnt bridges he built throughout his career, and has been dragged thru the mud over and over again.
That isn’t enough for Chamblee though, he wants Mickelson kicked out of the World Golf Hall of Fame. In his mind, Mickelson was the only player in the world not named Tiger Woods that could have shifted golf in this direction, a direction Chamblee hates.
“I don’t think he has any business being in the Hall of Fame,” Chamblee told Dylan Dethier of GOLF.com.
“He’s caused irreparable damage to the game. And if the Tour’s philanthropic aspect dies, the autopsy should read LIV. It should read Phil.”
“Phil was the only one that could really make a difference. He was the only one. And he was not motivated by altruistic thoughts.”
“He was moved and motivated by greed and that tilted the game in that direction. And so when I think about the dilemma that the Tour was in, it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Phil.”
This is a classic case of multiple things being able to be true at once.
Golf Purists, Brandel Chamblee Should Be Able To Separate Things
First and foremost, I’m a fan of Brandel Chamblee. Both his knowledge and respect for the game of golf are second to none. While I respect Chamblee, it doesn’t mean I have to agree with every word that comes out of his mouth.
If you’re looking at the world of professional golf through the lens of a purist, historian, or someone who simply doesn’t like change, then there is no arguing that Mickelson has caused “irreparable damage.”
Mickelson was a catalyst in getting LIV Golf off the ground and shook the hands of Saudi PIF leaders to do so. Full stop.
Those same golf historians and purists, which I would certainly put Chamblee in that bunch, should be able to separate the Phil Mickelson today and what he’s done off the course to what earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame back in 2012, which is what he was able to accomplish on the golf course.
Mickelson is a six-time major champion, 45-time winner on the PGA Tour, and the second most influential player of his generation behind Woods. He’s a Top 10 player of all-time, and Top 10 players of all-time deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Mickelson’s persona, his style and charisma either with a club in his hand or a microphone in front of his face, has grown the game of golf in an immeasurable way.
Chamblee has every right to be upset with the current unknown state of professional golf. He can hate the fact that Mickelson has sucked up to a terrible regime to earn money at the tail-end of his career resulting in Saudi Arabia having a seat at the table of professional golf.
He can be of the opinion that Mickelson is the worst person walking the planet, but that doesn’t mean golf should forget that he’s one of the greatest to ever pick up a golf club and erase history.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris