Brendan Havens here, with another mind bending, thought provoking, sometimes sleep inducing round of my incoherent thoughts and ramblings about this week’s episode of the greatest (only) golf reality competition series around: Big Break Atlantis.
If you’re a fan of tense, clutch, straight up dramatic competition, it really doesn’t get much better than what the ladies put forth this week. You had Marcela, the reigning Championship Points leader, on the ropes; Christina holing putts from everywhere; Selanee making yet another birdie when it really matters (not to mention taking another huge step toward curing her anxiety); and, of course, there’s that little putt Kelly managed to drain in the Elimination Challenge and Anya answering with that 5-foot knee-knocker. I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it! Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was still pretty awesome stuff. But, being the cerebral kind o’ dude that I am, this goosebump-creating Big Break style of entertainment got me thinking. Is this the best/most popular type of drama the Big Break franchise has to offer?
As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, there is a certain lack of childish, catty, backstabbing with the cast up to this point in the series. There actually is a genuine camaraderie between these contestants and even though they all want to win, they are rooting for each other to do well. Now, I know this isn’t the usual formula for typically successful reality entertainment, but does that make it not as entertaining? Since this type of television permeated pop culture with the advent of The Real World and Survivor, the key to their success (and those that have followed) has been that interpersonal in-fighting that the general public just can’t seem to get enough of. As you diehards can attest, Big Break certainly has not been immune to (pun intended) this “train wreck” type of fascination of people arguing with and insulting each other.
During the course of the 17 seasons of Big Break there’s been a bit of a mixed bag of drama. There have been seasons entirely dominated by bickering and backstabbing (Big Break III and Big Break Dominican Republic immediately come to mind). On the other hand, there have been numerous seasons where the words of the late Rodney King were taken to task and everyone just got along. It was the competition itself which served as that much needed antagonist (most recently Big Break Indian Wells). So, I pose the question to you. Which flavor of drama do you prefer?
I will say, there really is nothing like a Brian Skatell, Don Donatello or Carling Coffing. With personalities like these, every day in the edit room was an adventure. “What does Brian have to say about this shot” was always a fun question to ask ourselves day in and day out. From a Producer’s perspective, the series that contains a surplus of outrageous soundbites and dramatic confrontations is an easy one to craft. The storylines and moments are right there in front of you and it more or less edits itself. There is a pitfall to this style of entertainment, though. What a series like this lacks is depth. When it’s all about the cat fights, the action tends to stay in the shallow end of the pool.
The seasons that don’t contain these powder keg type moments are inherently more about the personal/internal storylines and really derive that dramatic feel from the challenges themselves, rather than the challenges everyone has in getting along. Where this can prove to be a much deeper and, when done correctly, more satisfying piece of television, the construction of these underlying stories over the course of an entire series is incredibly difficult to accomplish.
What it really comes down to with the Big Break is that it’s not a golf highlight show. It’s a story about how a group of people who are all chasing the same exact goal with totally differing personalities manage to coexist with each other. Golf just happens to be the glue that holds the whole thing together. As the challenges unfold, the individual personalities come out and sometimes this leads to the formation of sworn enemies (Pam and Danielle from Big Break III). Sometimes it leads to life changing friendships (Shank and Carl from Indian Wells). It’s all totally unpredictable and this is what makes this series so consistently popular year after year. It’s just about as real as reality TV can get. And really…when the competition itself has so much inherent drama, as it did last night, who needs an argument to ruin it.
What Flavor of Drama Do You Prefer?
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.