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Chubby Chandler explains Irish success
July 28, 2011

Andrew Chandler, currently golf’s most successful manager, feels he knows why three players from tiny Northern Ireland have claimed three major titles in 13 months.

He says it’s the South African connection.

Chandler manages British Open champion Darren Clarke and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the last two major winners. Graeme McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open, began his career with Chandler before switching stables.

As well as handling the affairs of two of the three Northern Irishman, Chandler, the burly former tour professional known affectionately as ‘Chubby’, also has under his wing U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and last year’s British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, both South Africans.

However, while acknowledging the three Ulstermen have pushed each other to success, it is a Northern Ireland-South African connection that Chandler believes is a great factor in driving his charges to eclipse major championship fields.

“Darren had a lot to do with the resurgence of Northern Irish golf when he came on the scene in the ’90s,” Chandler told Reuters on Wednesday on the eve of the Irish Open.

“He’s been their mentor and I’d say he was the catalyst for players like Rory and Graeme to get out there and try to do the same.

“With Graeme,he had a glittering college career in the States and was a natural winner. When he had a chance to win a major championship you knew he had the courage to do it.

“I think Graeme winning had a knock-on effect with Rory. He didn’t go to college in America, just has oodles of talent. I think he just believed in himself so much that he could follow Graeme.

“Darren? Sometimes it’s written in the stars. He lost about six years of his career, three while Heather (Clarke’s wife who died in 2006) was ill and three trying to get over Heather’s death. Somebody decided to give him those years back - with interest.

“But my main theory for the Northern Irish success story is a similar one to the two South Africans’ success.

“They are tough because of what has happened in their countries - apartheid and bans on playing for the South Africans, and Northern Ireland’s had its troubles.”

Chandler reasoned: “Because of that they’ve probably been brought up a bit differently to other kids and they’re a bit tougher than lads from other countries. It can’t be a coincidence that four of the last five majors have been won by two Northern Irishmen and two South Africans.

“It’s not widely known but before the (British) Open Darren practised with Rory for 11 holes then played a match with Charl and Louis. The three ate together all week and Darren felt completely at home with them. I think that had a knock-on effect with Darren this time.”

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