During the Masters last month, Brandel Chamblee grabbed headlines for some critical comments he made about Brooks Koepka. First, Chamblee offered his thoughts on Koepka's recent weight loss, which the Golf Channel analyst assumed was for "vanity reasons." Speculation has been that Koepka dropped the weight for a photo shoot for ESPN's "Body Issue," but it has yet to be confirmed.
After winning three majors in a span of 14 months, it was an odd move for Koepka to make such a drastic lifestyle switch. Chamblee thought it was more than just odd, calling it "the most reckless self sabotage I have ever seen of an athlete in his prime." Aggressive words, yes, but Chamblee has never been one to understate his case. Koepka responded with a first-round 66 at Augusta National, and said after the round that "I don't care what anybody else says. I'm doing it for me, and obviously it seems to work."
Even after this literal mic drop, Chamblee wasn't done, choosing to double down on Golf Channel's "Live From The Masters" after the first round on Thursday when asked if the 28-year-old Koepka was "tough enough" to win the Masters.
"His talent is undeniable," Chamblee said. "But I’ve heard people say this. You extrapolate from accomplishment, you infer qualities from a human being like, ‘He’s really tough.' Maybe he is, I don’t know. I got to say, I still need to be convinced."
Apparently Koepka's three major victories, which included a U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and a PGA Championship with Tiger Woods trying to chase him down, were not enough to prove to Chamblee that Koepka was "tough." Say what you want about Brandel, but when he positions himself on a hill, he's fully prepared and willing to die on it.
It would now seem as though Chamblee is tripling down on the Koepka criticism, though to be fair, he didn't actually mention Koepka by name on a recent podcast with fellow Golf Channel analyst Jaime Diaz. As first pointed out by Golf.com's Dylan Dethier, Diaz asked Chamblee directly if he still thought Tiger Woods was currently the best player. Here's what Chamblee had to say:
"I don’t know that the difference is going to be as substantial as it used to be. His putting is slightly worse, he’s not quite as long … He’s certainly there—he’s thereabouts. I think again if you’re just looking at one aspect of a fluidity, yes, he probably is.”
Here's where it got interesting, as Chamblee expanded on his thoughts and mentioned the two players he thinks can keep up with Woods if the 15-time major champion continues to play like he did at Augusta.
"In the aggregate, you’d have Dustin [Johnson] and Rory [McIlroy] who are the likely two who could hang with him. Jon Rahm’s still got a lot to learn. His iron play’s not as sharp as it needs to be to be the best player in the world, and it forces him to have to pitch the ball … his pitching, generally speaking, is not as good as it needs to be. And [Jordan] Spieth’s game has fallen off. So it’s really only two players who could challenge him.
"Irrespective of the World Rankings, I think all of us know what we need to know without the World Rankings telling us, and it’s Rory and it’s Dustin Johnson and it’s Tiger Woods, but Tiger’s simply not going to play enough to get the points that he needs to get."
Notice any omissions? Again, Chamblee did not say anything along the lines of "Brooks Koepka can't compete with Tiger," but it is a peculiar omission by Chamblee, who has still clearly not seen enough from Koepka.
Koepka caught wind of the Golf.com post, and, naturally, took offense. If you know Koepka, you know he's a big fan of using any and every perceived slight as fuel, and Chamblee not mentioning him as one of the guys that can keep up with Tiger would fall into the "slight" category. Koepka took to Twitter to fire back, though he didn't actually make a comment. He simply posted a picture that suggests perhaps what he thinks of Chamblee and his commentary:
Like many top players in the world, it doesn't seem like Koepka runs his own Twitter account, as most of the posts are ads for Michelob Ultra or Nike. This one appears to come from the desk of Brooks himself, though there is no real way of knowing. Judging by how he reacts to criticism, it's fair to say he had some sort of hand in posting a clown-nosed Brandel. And so the feud nobody in the golf world asked for continues.