Tiger Woods would have put Jack Nicklaus’ major championship mark in his rear-view mirror long ago if he had kept swing coach Butch Harmon on his payroll, says Brandel Chamblee.
"If Tiger had stayed with that person [Harmon], and hadn’t left out of petty differences, hadn’t left out of boredom, he would have already broke (sic) Jack’s records. People would no longer debate about the greatest golfer of all time. As inconceivable as it seems to anyone who grew up watching Jack Nicklaus, it would be a moot argument," the outspoken Golf Channel analyst told Ed Sherman in a recent wide-ranging interview (via Geoff Shackleford). "Tiger would have won 25 majors; he would have won 100 golf tournaments if he stayed with [Harmon]."
Chamblee harps continually on the changes Woods has made to his swing since leaving Harmon in 2002 and is especially critical of swing guru Sean Foley, who joined Team Tiger in 2010. Last week, during a conference call with reporters, Chamblee conjured up quite the colorful image when he compared the "awful" way the 14-time major winner hits his driver to "a dead mackerel wrapped in newspaper."
Harmon coached Woods for more than a decade in a span that included eight major championships and the Tiger Slam, when his student won all four majors over two seasons. After leaving Harmon, Woods worked with Hank Haney until the two parted ways and the golfer put Foley on the map by hiring him in 2010.
Chamblee explained his incessant needling of Woods to Sherman, who noted that the one-time PGA Tour winner went off on a six-minute monologue in response to a query about why he’s so hard on Tiger.
"He achieved this incredible success and consistency, only to tear it down and build it back up. To get where? To get back to the same exact spot where he was," Chamblee said. "To then tear that down and build it back up. Where was the goal? To get back where he was."
Woods, Chamblee added, "was going somewhere with his golf game. Now he’s going somewhere with his golf swing.
"That’s where I’m critical of him," Chamblee averred. "He was in the middle of this one, long flawless note and he stopped or he was interrupted, whichever one you want to choose. And he’s trying to recreate it again."
Woods’ constant need to reinvent his swing wasted precious time and ruined what Chamblee considered the most beautiful motion in the history of golf.
"I stood next to him and I watched the greatest golf swing the game has ever seen. The greatest stretch of golf the world has ever seen. And he willfully dismantled it," Chamblee said. "That’s the craziest thing in the history of sports. Not golf. All of sports.
"There’s no equivalent to it, but if you’re a sports fan," Chamblee offered, "it’s literally the ’27 Yankees starting with a new roster in 1928."