Who's The Real Eliminator Here?

By Big Break ProducerJuly 10, 2012, 2:00 am

On your average Big Break shoot, there are four interview producers.  With the usual number of twelve contestants on the series, a simple calculation reveals that there are three interviewees per interviewer.  (And I remember wondering at the time, 'When am I ever going to use this 4th grade math?')

At about an hour or more per interview, that's roughly three-and-a-half hours of talking about the day that was.  But, arguably, they're the most important hours of a production day.  Getting deep inside the heads of the competitors is what sets the Big Break apart from most other varieties of golf.

We're never quite sure if the players enjoy the interviews as much as we do.  After all, there's more golf to be played and another long day ahead tomorrow, and to a golfer -- especially a Big Breaker -- sleep is more valuable than prison cigarettes.

Like them or not, the only way out of a post-game interview is for a player to be eliminated.  During the Atlantis series, Meghan had the dubious honor of giving the first goodbye interview.  By random predetermination, I was the one charged with asking the questions of Meghan throughout what became her limited run on the show.

Now if there is an upside to losing a contestant, it's gaining the extra hour of sleep the following night.  I would have been happy to chat with Meghan for one or several more episodes.  Alas, it just wasn't in the cards, and the following night I hit the pillows that much earlier.

In Show 3, Zakiya took the walk, and since she was another of my interview subjects, you'd think that was even better, right?  Not quite.  Losing two interviews so soon doesn't guarantee you anything, because the numbers don't add up at that stage.  Some other hard-working interview producer still had three players to talk to.  So we reshuffled.  Two for him, and two for me.

Prior to episode four, I added Aubrey to my interview list; lo and behold she didn't survive the day.  Before show five, Natalia.  Gone.

By then, my fellow producers were calling me 'The Eliminator'.  A human cyanide capsule with a note pad.  Anya.  Christina.  Bang.  Zoom.  Schedule an interview with me and you might as well write your living will and your Big Break obituary while you're at it.  Of the first nine players to say goodbye to Atlantis, half a dozen of them had to do it while looking at yours truly.

Of course, there was another 'Eliminator' on the show.  Namely, Selanee Henderson.

Each time I was asking one of the aforementioned castaways how it feels to hear that last putt drop on them, or when it actually sinks in that the dream is over, there's a very good chance that their travel reservations were made by virtue of a Selanee birdie.

Seville had its barber.  Eastwick had its witches.  Through nine episodes, it's been remarkable to watch Selanee evolve into the Eliminator of Atlantis.  Early in the series, she was backing off of short putts like there were wasps in the cup.  But somewhere she turned a corner, and since then she's been like Big Break Ebola, devouring anyone who's unfortunate enough to catch her at the end of a show.

Selanee has relished the new role she's carved out for herself.  Marcela is into the Championship Match.  Gloriana has yet to face elimination, but with only Selanee standing between her and a ticket to the finale of Big Break Atlantis, that's looking like an inevitability.
And now that I'm fresh out of players to interview, we'll find out who the real Eliminator is.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.