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Best Man
MICHAEL BAMBERGER
April 04, 2011
With a growing stable of stars that includes Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, the hottest agent abroad is Chubby Chandler, a straight-shooting Englishman who doesn't believe in contracts or letting his business relationships get in the way of a jolly good time
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April 04, 2011

Best Man

With a growing stable of stars that includes Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, the hottest agent abroad is Chubby Chandler, a straight-shooting Englishman who doesn't believe in contracts or letting his business relationships get in the way of a jolly good time

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Zack Rasego, Oosthuizen's black South African caddie, hung out at the Jigger Inn on the Sunday night after the win. "Oh, it was a beautiful thing," Rasego says, recalling the night with a crooked smile. British Open Sunday happened to fall on Nelson Mandela's birthday and at the time when the World Cup was being played in South Africa. As Oosthuizen was marching back into town with a commanding lead, Chandler got the idea that mentioning Mandela might be a good thing for Oosthuizen to do in his victory remarks. He called Johann Rupert, a South African businessman well-traveled in golf, soccer and South African politics, seeking advice. (Chandler isn't afraid to seek advice and does so often.) Rupert endorsed the idea. On that basis Chandler wrote out some talking points for Oosthuizen. At the awards ceremony, claret jug in hand, the first thing Oosthuizen did was wish "Mr. Nelson Mandela" a happy 92nd birthday. Rasego beamed. Chandler, wandering the links that night on his way to the Jigger Inn, looked deeply satisfied. He said later, "The reward in my job is not always the obvious reward."

You want to know the one golf person Chandler most brings to mind? It's McCormack as a young man, when he represented Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, when IMG had a face and McCormack was it. Like McCormack, Chandler has formed deeply personal attachments with his players. Three quarters of the ISM golfers have been with Chandler since they turned pro. He manages the golfers' families too. Chandler is as close to McIlroy's parents as he is to McIlroy. Rory never considered another agent.

Chandler wouldn't know how to make a power-point presentation, but he's fluent in the language of tournament golf. When Seve Ballesteros's old caddie, Billy Foster, went to work for Clarke, Clarke said to Chandler, "Do you think he'll be looking for a better bag?" Chandler said, "If you play well, he won't." Chandler bonds with his players over golf and over the foibles of life. He and Clarke have been through weddings, death, childbirth and life's other events together. They talk daily.

In 2002, at the British Open at Muirfield, Chandler received one of his greatest honors. McCormack invited him to the rented IMG palace for lunch. The two compared notes. McCormack never mentioned anything about trying to buy ISM from Chandler. He knew Chandler had no interest in selling. He knew Chandler, like McCormack himself, was not motivated by money, not foremost, but by a desire to be in the game. Ten months after their lunch, McCormack died.

For status, Chubby says STAY-tus. McCormack conferred STAY-tus on Chubby that day. For camaraderie, Chubby says CAME-eh-RAY-der-ee. Chubby's job gives him camaraderie every day he works it, and that's pretty much every day. Really, there's no line between where Chandler's work life ends and his private life begins, which is why his players choose not to have contracts with him and why he can sit at a clubhouse table with his boys all day and never get itchy to do something else. What else would he do?

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