Brandel Chamblee is a divisive commentator, to say the least. Phil Mickelson doesn’t seem to care for him, he’s gotten in memorable spats with Rory McIlroy, all of Twitter, and co-host David Duval, among others. Chamblee also happens to know a ton about golf, and he does a fantastic job breaking down his points for an audience.
So when Chamblee announced last week that he’d be making a return to competitive golf by attempting to qualify for the Senior British Open the day after his Open Championship television responsibilities ended, there was a certain segment of the golf world that was likely gearing up for the opportunity to criticize the critic. Indeed, the New York Post even ran the story with the headline “Tables could turn on British Open’s harshest commentator”, which included Chamblee’s thoughts on how a return to playing could help his analysis:
“I love TV and I am not going to stop doing it any time soon,” said Chamblee, 56, who retired in 2003 to spend more time with his three children. “I really enjoy it, but golf has been my life and I’ve committed some effort to it. I think it’ll help me do what I do now. It’s pretty easy to sit in a chair and lose sight of just how difficult golf is and rage against that, try and rage against that. To go out there and hit these shots again it gives you a great appreciation to just how athletic the game is today.”
You could practically hear people warming up the “This is why people in the booth shouldn’t be critical!” take machines.
Then Chamblee shot a 2-under par 69 on Monday to not only qualify for the Senior British Open at St. Andrews, but to earn co-medalist honors at his qualifier. That’s not a bad round for a 56-year-old whose last professional event was at Pebble Beach in 2008. Via Golf Channel:
Chamblee earned one of seven qualifying spots available for the 145-man field at Scotscraig and one of 27 spots available across four different qualifying sites.
Chamblee has played sparingly in recent years, but he explained on a recent Golf Channel podcast that he hoped to make a return to competition at the Old Course, where he made the second of three career Open appearances 23 years ago.
“My game’s pretty good. When I’ve played, I’ve played some really good golf,” Chamblee said. “I’m looking forward to it for a lot of different reasons. I want to try to get back into competitive golf, and I would love to have another week at St. Andrews.”
Chamblee’s Senior British appearance does open up a dream scenario, too:
TODAY: Brandel qualifies for Senior British Open.
SUNDAY: Brandel wins Senior British Open, earns exemption into 148th British Open at Royal Portrush.
JULY, 18, 2019: "Next on the tee, from America, Tiger Woods … Phil Mickelson … and Brandel Chamblee."
— Josh Berhow (@Josh_Berhow) July 23, 2018
Chamblee wasn’t the only full-time television analyst to pick up his sticks again and qualify; NBC (and Golf Channel) analyst Gary Koch shot a 68 at a separate qualifier to make the field.