One of the hardest parts of producing a Big Break is keeping your poker face. We spend a few months of pre-production in Orlando creating the rules for all the challenges, and devising the twists and turns of the season. Then after each shooting day is over, we interview contestants that may have unwitting triggered a trap that won’t spring until the next day’s shoot.
For instance, at the end of day four, which corresponds with our fourth episode, I interviewed Kelly, who had bought out of the elimination challenge in that episode. So I had to ask her to talk about her decision to trade all of her points to avoid elimination, knowing full well that the next morning she would be playing a one-hole match against Natalia to avoid being sent directly to the episode 5 elimination. Evil laugh.
Episode 5 was a big day with a lot happening. Gerina Pillar returned, we played tic-tac-toe, and we had $5000 credit from Avis up for grabs. Great to meet Gerina, as I didn’t work the Big Break Prince Edward Island season. She’s incredibly nice, and a credit to the game, we thank her for appearing and wish her success on the LPGA Tour.
Tic-tac-toe is an idea that’s been floating around for at least four seasons in different incarnations. One of the big issues has always been dealing with stalemates. In the paper game we all played growing up, two players that know strategy can force a stalemate almost every game. Golf tic-tac-toe is a bit different simply because players have to execute a shot, but we had no idea how many stalemates to expect. To protect against that concern, we used it as a first stage in a two stage immunity. Naturally we had zero stalemates. Many thanks to Range Servant for providing the net system, and to our Art Department for dressing the pieces in true Atlantean fashion.
At the end of episode 1, we always ask the contestants about the grand prize package during the night’s interviews. We usually end up with a variety of responses, but certain people fixate on certain prizing. Allison was especially pumped up about the inclusion of Avis in the Grand Prize package that first night, so naturally she was pretty juiced when the episode 5 immunity prize turned out to be Avis. We couldn’t have asked for a more excited winner. After hanging on and surviving a few early episodes, she vaulted up the Championship Points leaderboard in show 5. Could it be a sign of things to come?
Tune in next week...
Some Random Thoughts
Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.
Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.
The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.
“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”
More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.
“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”
Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.
Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.
Burns, 20, who earned his Web.com Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the Web.com money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.
Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.
Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.
List leads Honda; Thomas one back
Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:
Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4)
What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.
Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.
Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.
Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.
Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.
Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas
Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).
Dufner wears "BOSS" hat while playing with Tiger
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jason Dufner doesn’t have a hat sponsor this year, freeing him up to wear whatever lid he wants.
That’s why he’s already worn caps with camouflage, American flags and The Notorious B.I.G.’s face.
He saved his most audacious look for Saturday at the Honda Classic – a blue cap with “BOSS” and five gold stars on the front.
“Perfect time,” Dufner said with a smile, “playing with Tiger (Woods).”
And where did he find the cap, which generated plenty of buzz on social media?
At Rickie Fowler’s house, of course.
“There’s not much behind it,” Dufner said. “I don’t have a sponsorship this year, so I’m doing whatever I want to do. This one was laying in Rickie’s house last night, so I grabbed it.”