The Most Amazing Place I Never Saw
We here at Big Break headquarters go to great lengths to ensure the secrecy of each series' location until the time comes to announce it publicly. But privately, family and friends are always concerned to know which general direction you’re headed for the next few weeks. (They're funny that way.) My answer is usually a cryptic reference to the geographic area in question—in this case, 'The Bahamas'—and their response is always the same: 'Must be nice!'
This time, 'nice' barely scratched the surface. So I hear.
The Atlantis, Paradise Island is, as a certain dolphin might tell you in episode 3, 'more amazing than the myth'. The Big Break invaded the resort for a little under a month, but in truth it would probably take more to fully explore all that Atlantis has to offer.
If Willy Wonka was a beach bum instead of a candy connoisseur, this would be his place.
I was told you can not leave Paradise Island without exploring the Aquaventure water park and its 20 million gallons of thrills and refreshing chills. Marcela, Kelly and Aubrey were fortunate enough to play their way into Aquaventure, and it certainly appears they made the most of their afternoon!
Atlantis boasts myriad swimming areas, and based on what I've heard they make most resort pools look like chlorinated rain puddles. Then there's The Dig, a staggering underwater recreation of the lost city of Atlantis which should be on any visitor's to-do list. (No shovel required.)
In addition to the aquatic adventures found all over Paradise Island, there's a vast network of restaurants, spas, shops, bars and, of course, the casino – home to hundreds of table games, slot machines and, proudly, zero of my dollars.
Alas, swimming, dining and shopping were not the reasons we came to Atlantis. It was all about the golf. We covered every inch of the incredible Ocean Club Golf Course in search of this season's worthy Big Break champion, and the action did not disappoint.
Unless your name happens to be Zakiya Randall.
This particular day was long, even by Big Break standards, but arguably no one had a longer day than 'Z'. She discovered that, while Big Break golf is unlike any you'll ever play, some golf axioms still vividly apply. Like this one: it's a game of inches.
Zakiya was sitting pretty in the first Immunity Challenge and looking like the third member of the Aquaventure excursion team until Aubrey so deftly knocked her off her perch – by two inches. Rumor has it that's thinner than the glass at The Dig.
Pity, really. That spandex would have transitioned nicely to the water park.
Even in the midst of Big Break's 17th season there's a palpable sense of surprise and intrigue on set when such a game-changing moment occurs. The ensuing chain of events ultimately landed Zakiya in the Elimination Challenge. The rest is Big Break history, and a perfect example of what's at stake on each swing.
Try playing Jenga at gunpoint, or doing surgery on your favorite pet during an earthquake. That only begins to depict the pressure that the ladies of the Big Break are feeling over every shot. And even when you rise to the occasion, somebody else might be two inches better.
Being a part of the planning, development and production of such a series is almost as exhilarating as the sheer drop down the 'Leap of Faith', the watery plunge from Atlantis' Mayan Temple. Or so I'd imagine.
With so much excitement on the course and a dedicated, professional crew putting it all together the long days somehow tend to fly by. Then it's back on a plane headed home a mere 43 shades lighter than the tanning mom.
Upon my return, when family and friends give me the standard 'must be nice' reaction, I return serve with my old stand-by response: The hours are brutal, but the office is amazing.
And I definitely plan to go back to Atlantis, to finally see what I was missing the whole time I was there.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.