The Open 2004

Westwood keeps hope alive after Clarke's calamity

Chandler the handler: Chubby's team of players to survive the cut maintain the family atmosphere

Shank! The most dreaded word in golf ran like a shiver through the crowd surrounding the third green as Darren Clarke sent an attempted chip looping at right-angles to its target.

Shank! The most dreaded word in golf ran like a shiver through the crowd surrounding the third green as Darren Clarke sent an attempted chip looping at right-angles to its target.

To witnesses whose experiences with shanks are more commonplace, the sight of a top pro suffering one of golf's most freakish mis-hits was incredible. Clarke has been known to commit the odd one or two but this was a beauty, and the inconvenience of the moment was written deep into the face of an onlooker who normally can be relied upon for a cheery countenance.

Among those who control the affairs of our leading golfers, Andrew "Chubby" Chandler is an amiable and engaging gent, and he came into The Open with 12 clients, his highest-ever representation. Friday's cut still left him with six, which included long-standing clients Clarke, Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley and the colourful Ian Poulter, whom he manages in association with another. None were in the front rank of contenders on Saturday morning, but at least three were close enough to build a hope on and, at one under, Clarke was their leader.

The way he drove the ball straight and long on the first two was very encouraging. Sadly, his putting didn't match. He could be forgiven a missed birdie chance from 12 feet on the first, but when he wedged splendidly to within five feet on the second he looked crestfallen at the slide-past.

His tee shot on the third was a colossal 360 yards, and was only 15 from the green upon which Tiger Woods was carefully studying the line of a putt. Only the gentlest of chips was required to clear the bunker and roll towards the flag, but the ball lobbed right and came to rest on the edge of the green, from which a three-putt was the best he could do.

He got the shot back with a birdie on the seventh but surrendered one to the Postage Stamp, and then went one over par on 10th.

By this time Chandler was in the happier company of Westwood, whose 68 would have considerably cheered the Chandler camp or, to give them their full name, International Sports Management Ltd. Chandler had stuck to his plan to watch Clarke's first four holes and then step across to watch Westwood, who had started two hours earlier, play his last four. He was also trying to keep an eye on the others yesterday as well as his wife and two children, who were enjoying their walk-round with him until they were hit by the mid-afternoon squall.

As usual, he had spent an hour on the practice ground with each of his clients. Westwood and Poulter, clad in pink and black yesterday, were teeing off at about the same time, so they practised side by side, with Chubby in the middle.

He was chatting to Aston Villa's manager, David O'Leary, recently, and discussed the similarities of their jobs. "He manages a team of footballers and I manage a team of golfers. They all have characters that need individual handling. One might need an arm around his shoulder, another might need a prod, and another a few corrective words of direction. It's important they feel easy with themselves and with me."

Getting his 12 clients and their entourages accommodated in Troon involved the renting of 11 dwellings. The biggest, 600 yards from the course, housed Chandler plus two chefs, and every night they all sat down to dinner together.

Chandler's organisation has links with the US management firm Gaylord, so extra dinner guests included Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia. After-dinner entertainment has included betting on the night racing and watching a Twenty20 cricket match involving Andrew Flintoff, who is one of Chandler's burgeoning collection of cricketing clients. He could field a useful team from a large group of internationals, ranging from the England captain, Michael Vaughan, to the Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

The sense of one big happy family contrasts sharply with the worldwide International Management Group, who manage their customers via serious men in suits, but Chandler insists that some players prefer it that way to his more extroverted approach. Still, he said: "In just a month, Ian Poulter has found it easy to fit in with us."

His golfers socialise together, own horses together and enjoy the attention they get from their manager, who was a journeyman pro himself for 20 years before giving up the unequal struggle. He was persuaded that he would make a good manager because he had made all the mistakes himself, and such experience was invaluable.

He is a keen all-round sportsman. He is also a keen supporter of Bolton, his birthplace, and follows Manchester United from his box at Old Trafford.

The highlight of his golfing career was winning the Sao Paulo Open, and he is fond of reminding his stable that none of them have ever won in South America. It might have made a good subject to bring up at dinner last night.

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