Insight on Show 3 by Big Break’s Kelly Jacques

By Big Break ProducerOctober 23, 2014, 7:57 pm

Former Big Break Ireland competitor and LPGA/Symetra Tour professional Kelly Jacques is back to lend her insight on Big Break Myrtle Beach.  Each week, Kelly will give you her thoughts on that week’s show, including what the pressure is like, since she has been there before. She also will provide you with some behind-the-scenes info on the cast – Kelly has played alongside a few of them on the Symetra Tour the past few years.  While she has no knowledge of any results on the series, she will offer up thoughts on her favorites – and some non-favorites – on Big Break Myrtle Beach.  When not providing her Big Break commentary, Kelly works for GolfNow.com, Golf Channel’s official online tee-times provider.

 Big Break Myrtle Beach: Episode 3

 The flop wall is here! Pair that with the rising tension and the contentious Anthony, you get an awesome third episode!

 The producers always change up this staple challenge to keep it interesting and keep the competitors on their toes. This season, they hit from a set distance, over the wall towards the pin and into a circle. If the player’s ball finishes inside the circle they earn 10 points. If they fail to do so they earn 0 points. Now here is where it gets interesting. The producers brought back the drama causing: In and Out Benches. While each player hits, the remaining players either sit on the “in” bench or the “out” bench, depending on if they think the player will hit it inside the circle or not. For every right answer each player will receive 2 points. The players with the highest four point totals will automatically move on to the next show, with the highest point total receiving $2,500 courtesy of Macanudo. I love these types of challenges that combine both skill and strategy.

 

Tessa was the first to hit and she nearly made it finishing just a few feet from the hole. Surprisingly, she was the ONLY player to successfully hit it inside the circle. A few epic fails were Anthony who had the quick and nervous chip resulting in a chunk; Katy H., who barely hit it over the wall; and Dave, who squarely hit the wall. Everyone took their time but Anthony, who literally walked up to the shot, barely set his feet and hit. This is an interesting approach when under pressure. I have a feeling that he isn’t as confident as he leads on. Tessa had the skill and also proved she’s smart too. She knew with a few players to go, no one could overtake her at the top position, as long as she mirrored Caroline’s picks. She did just that and secured the $2,500 cash. However, there was a playoff between Charlie and Toph to decide that 4th immunity spot. Anthony ruffled some more feathers by refusing to join the group while watching the playoff. I’m not so sure about his approach to this competition. I get his mentality that he is here to win, not make friends. However, making friends and having them on your side will always serve you well. It will be interesting to see if alienating himself will have a backlash. Charlie proceeded to hit a great shot inside the circle while Toph did not.  The golfers moving on to the next show are Tessa, Caroline, Katy H and Charlie. I am not surprised by these results, with the exception of Emily. With her impressive resume, including winning the USGA Amateur Public Links Championship, I’ve been surprised by her lack luster play thus far. I’m hoping she’ll settle down and start playing her game!

 Moving onto the second part of the immunity challenge, the players had to hit their 8-iron as close as possible to the pin from any distance over 90 yards. The first time around, the closest two players are immune. Meanwhile the remaining players have to hit the shot again, combining their two distances. After the second shots, the closest player is immune, while the player who has the worst distance is sent to elimination. Emily hit first from 148 yards and stuck it to 6’7”…finally…an impressive shot! What was more impressive was the yardage she chose…into the wind, she’s a beast! Another solid shot was posted by Christian who hit second from 162 yards to 10’5”. After that, the quality of golf was pretty poor…actually flat out horrible. Dave decided to hit from 160 yards even though he was hitting it 170 yards on the range. Result? 10 yards long. If he would have stuck with his yardage he would have been pin high. A bit of advice, play whatever game you bring to the course that day. Moving on, Katie hit a full 8-iron from 120 yards and came up short of the green. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she completely miss-hit it and there was a massive gust of wind…into her. Anthony continued his questionable play, as he decided to hit his 8 iron from 100 yards. This is such a high risk shot, and has to land the ball perfectly to get it close. He proceeded to block it right to 26’2”. Emily and Christian hit it the closest and got to watch the 2nd round from the bench. There is literally no better feeling on this show than knowing your safe and you can watch the others battle it out. The golf, in this 2nd round was even worse. Anthony hit from the same distance with the same result and Toph found himself in the last spot, securing his position in the elimination challenge by missing the green…again.

 Toph decided to choose Katie D to play against in elimination, solely because he’s buddies with Dave and Jimmy. See Anthony…having allies pays off! In this elimination challenge, the two players will face off in 4 locations. Each location has a set par, and in order to earn points, they have to hole out with a score of par or better. They started off with a 6’ straight in putt. Toph and Katie both drained it right in the center earning 1 point. Next was the chip. Katie has a very strong short game and it was no surprise that she almost made it. Toph hit it about 7 feet past but made a statement as he drained his come-back putt. Impressive! The third location was a 100 yard par 3 and both players made par, earning themselves 3 points. The final location was a 380-yard par-4 for Toph and a 323-yard hole for Katie. I don’t know what he was thinking, but Toph pulled driver, and blocked it dead right, losing it in the hazard. In my opinion, you need to just put the ball in play on this short hole. You don’t get anything extra for making birdie, so there is no reason to be aggressive here. Katie, being as straight as she is, hits driver right down the center. Katie hit her second to the back of the green and hit her lag putt to 5 feet. She had a chance to send Toph home but unfortunately blocked her putt and left it out right. This is so easy to do when you are nervous. Golfers tend to come up and out of their posture, resulting in the open putter face. I want to point out Toph’s amazing display of true sportsmanship. When Katie had 2 putts to win, you can hear him talking to her ball to get closer, and on her second putt he told it to get in. Toph, that is incredible. You won me over and I hope viewers took notice of that as well.

 Ok…playoff time, and this time around they’re playing stroke play! Knowing that he was just given a present, Toph pulls 3-wood and stripes it down the fairway and Katie of course joins him, in perfect position. Toph hit first and left it just short of the green while Katie pulled her 94-yard shot into the left green side bunker. She hit a great shot out and gave herself a chance to make par. Toph almost made his chip and tapped in. Katie’s putt looked fairly similar to her last putt just moment ago, but she did the same thing, leaving her putt out to the right securing her fate.

 Honestly no one can judge until they’ve been on Big Break and felt that pressure. A regular shot at a tournament can turn into the hardest shot of your life on Big Break. These competitors put their game to the test on TV, in order to make their dream a reality. Give credit to these players, it’s not as easy as it looks and this is their passion. For this exact reason, it’s always sad to see someone get eliminated. That feeling when you realize your Big Break experience has come to an end is definitely a sad one. I’m proud of Katie for holding her head high, playing with grace and keeping everything in perspective. She’s not a long hitter but she can definitely make that up with her short game. I know this experience will serve her well in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing her smiling face down the road.

 Until next week!

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.