Brandel Chamblee Admits ‘Mild Disappointment’ Over The Players Missing LIV Golfers But Is Adamant Event Still Holds Significant Prestige

The Golf Channel analyst stated that he sees the PGA Tour's flagship event as something of "a reward" for the best players on the European and US-based circuits

Brandel Chamblee at the US Women's Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brandel Chamblee has launched an impassioned defence of The Players Championship, arguing that the absence of LIV golfers from the flagship event is merely a "mild disappointment" in his eyes and it does not detract from the prestige of the historic tournament.

Often referred to as "the best field in golf" by the PGA Tour, The Players' line-up in 2024 has been forced to withstand a notable level of criticism amid the absence of several star names - a handful of which have recently defected to the LIV Golf League.

It was noted during the Golf Channel broadcast, on which Chamblee was speaking, that the winner of 17 of the past 30 Majors would not be at this year's Players.

While Chamblee did not try to argue that the field was as star-studded as it perhaps has been, the former PGA Tour pro stated that The Players is about "celebrating the best" male golfers on the European and US-based tours - therefore, whoever competes in it should feel fortunate to be a part of its history and highly-regarded status.

Chamblee said: "I look at the prestige of this event, the fact that some of the best players in the world are not here. It’s a mild disappointment. I love watching those guys play golf [Smith and Rahm], but they decided to play on another tour. This tour is meant to celebrate the best of the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

"The players that are going to LIV have been courted away not with prestige but with greed. Prestige comes to an event, not just because of the money, it comes because of the gauntlet, the course, the tour they play on.

Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm will not be in this year's Players after defecting to LIV Golf

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"I look at this event as somewhat of a reward for supporting the PGA Tour in its foundation of philanthropy. That’s what the PGA Tour has always been about. This is meant to be a reward for being a player on the PGA Tour and being one of the best players on the DP World Tour.

"So while it is at least, in my view, a mild disappointment - yours [addressing Paul McGinley] may be more than a mild disappointment - that they’re not here, I don’t think that it detracts from the prestige of this tournament in any substantive way."

Golf Channel anchor, Rich Lerner then pointed out that The Players has historically been known as men's golf's fifth Major - a tag that can easily be argued no longer exists due to the absence of players like Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, and Joaquin Niemann.

Chamblee responded by saying that while the PGA Tour might not be filled to the brim with household names as the Players sets up for its 50th running, the situation is likely to look very differently in five to 10 years time as the US-based circuit continues to churn out stars on its established conveyor belt.

Following on from Lerner's point, Chamblee said: "But Rich, you’re talking about a moment in time, which is all LIV, is, it’s a moment in time. I would say it’s temporary.

"If you go back to 2010 and you look at that money list, most of the players that were on the top 10 of the money list are either out of the game or 3,000th in the world rankings.

"Go to 2015 and while you can look at that list and say, you’ve got some marvellous players that are still around today, Spieth, Day, Fowler, McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Etc. Nowhere on the radar was Wyndham Clark, Sahith Theegala, Will Zalatoris, Ludvig Aberg or Scottie Scheffler.

"The PGA Tour has a feeder system, a direct line to creating stars, and just this year we’ve began to create new stars. In five more years the stars that are now, well most of them won’t be at the top of the game.

"The fact that LIV has bought a few players, it’s a place in time. Those players will not have that game in three or four more years. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour will carry on developing superstars."

The first and second round tee times have been released ahead of the 50th Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course this week. Each of the 144 golfers involved will be competing for the lion's share of a $25 million prize purse at one of the most famous properties in the world.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.