Ian Poulter gets bashed for his decision to “play for second place”

Ian Poulter found himself within two shots of the leader at the Players Championship Sunday. The Englishman has been struggling for form in recent months, and came within inches of losing his Tour card just last week. 

There is no question that Ian Poulter was looking at the bigger picture when he decided to lay up on the par 5 16th. Finishing second would guarantee him his PGA TOUR card for 2018, a thought that would cross the mind of any professional. Chamblee wasn’t buying a bar of this as he laid into the Englishman, calling his approach on the par 5 16th, “the worst shot of the day.”

Trailing by two shots–with the leader one hole behind–Poulter reached for an iron as he looked to play his second on the par 5. This was a fair response to a suspect lie (his ball was in the short rough), not to mention the 230 yards standing between him and the hole.

Say what you like about golf’s archetypal villain, Chamblee’s onslaught was relentless and out of line:

“Look where he’s lining up (on No. 17),” Chamblee said. “He’s lining up in the middle of the green. The person he is trying to beat is playing a par-5 behind him, and he’s got two shots to make up, and he plays to the middle of the green. It’s a fine shot, didn’t cost himself any money, didn’t cost him any world ranking points, but he clearly did not play to win…and he didn’t.

“Money matters, world ranking points matter, and I get it,” Chamblee said. “I have hit that shot. I have done that. I have done exactly what Ian Poulter did. No one is ever going to call me a good player. We reserve the right to call great players and great shots. This is why we don’t laud (Poulter’s shot). We laud the shot David Duval hit, the shots that Tiger Woods hit. That’s why we laud those, that’s why we stand up and go ‘Well done, great shot.’ (Poulter’s shot), was not that.”

Poulter finished T2 and took to Twitter to respond to Brandel’s criticism. It was a confusing situation for any golf fan to witness. These men share a contentious side that does not endear them to a large audience.

I have to side with Poulter on this one. A pro has to consider their career, and it was an almost insurmountable challenge to go for the 16th green from a poor lie. Brandel was just boiling some blood after a fairly insipid Players Championship. He would go on to criticise the tournament in the same breath, taking away from winner, Si Woo Kim, in the most Brandel way imaginable.

At 21 years old, Kim is the youngest winner in tournament history, and becomes just the fourth player to have won twice on the PGA Tour before age 22. Not a great achievement according to Brandel, who’s assessment completely ignored J.B. Holmes–a power hitter who was in contention right up until the final day.

“Because of the distance constrictions, the very best players cannot play their best game,” Chamblee said. “It’s not Tiger proof, it’s superstar proof.”

As evidence, Chamblee cited Kim’s poor driving marks on the season, saying the tournament had become a “scrambling contest.”  Brandel has become a caricature of himself. His contrarian position is mildly annoying at best, and just plain rude the rest of the time. Congratulations Kim!