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Golf's Super Agent

Chubby Chandler’s clients include four major tournament winners and a solid cast of golf’s biggest stars
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

(continued from page 2)

Both Els and Chandler were publicly buddy-buddy about the split, Chandler saying he was sure he would still be having a few beers with Els. McDowell left Chandler in 2007, with Chandler blaming himself, saying that he did not pay enough attention to him.

Chandler’s business expanded into other sports: cricket, soccer, snooker (yes, snooker) and Paralympics swimmer Heather Frederiksen. In fact, it was the success of English cricketer Andrew Flintoff that gave Chandler the experience he needed to deal with all the demands on his major winners, starting with Oosthuizen at St Andrews in 2010.

   “While I didn’t have a major winner until Louis [Els had won his majors before signing with Chandler], I had dealt with the situation like that before with Andrew Flintoff,” says Chandler. “He was the absolute hero of the Ashes [test match] between England and Australia in 2005. He certainly was as big as Rory was winning the Open.”

At this year’s Masters, Chandler was torn by emotions. His young superstar McIlroy was leading going into the final round but started letting things slip away. Then he pull hooked his drive on the 10th hole, ending up between member cabins for his second shot. He fell like a stone down the leaderboard and out of contention.

But Schwartzel caught fire, made birdie on the last four holes and donned the Green Jacket.

“At the Masters, you can imagine my emotions with Rory and Charl,” says Chandler. “Rory’s sort of dying in public and Charl is making birdie on the last four holes to win. I was having incredible highs and lows in the same breath.”

It was in that moment, of Schwartzel’s high and McIlroy’s low, that all of Chandler’s acumen was required. Perhaps more so than any other agent, Chandler is not just a deal maker, but a mentor, a shepherd. The congratulations for Schwartzel weren’t as important as the consolation of McIlroy, though he knew his young charge was tough at heart, that it was just a bad day, and that there were good ones to come.

“I’ve learned that when something happens like what happened to Rory, you want to buy some time,” says Chandler, who had publicly vowed that his goal for McIlroy was not to make him a basket case by age 25. “There are too many emotions when something like that happens. In Rory’s case, we didn’t talk about the Masters for probably 10 days. He went off to Malaysia straight away. I know he wasn’t as down as people think he might have been. Right after it, he said he had a bad day, it was just a golf tournament, that he was 21 and a lot of future in front of him.”

Chandler knew in his role as mentor and shepherd, that McIlroy was not prepared for that Masters moment, that despite his major talent, he did not look like a major winner. Among the cricketers he represents is Michael Vaughan, once the English captain and someone he calls upon for sage advice. Chandler likes to get his veteran athletes together, to discuss the experiences of his younger players and how they might handle the pressure better.

“I could tell when he went to the first tee at Augusta on Sunday that his body language wasn’t correct. He had his head down as he walked through the crowd and he looked straight down when he walked on the tee. It was like he didn’t want to engage them.

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