Big Break's Annie & Kelly Provide Insight on Show 8

By Big BreakApril 28, 2014, 1:16 pm

Former Big Break Ireland competitors Annie Brophy and Kelly Jacques are back. Only this time, it is not to play on Big Break, but to lend their insight and provide some fun facts about the ladies of Big Break Florida.

Kelly: I was really looking forward to this week, after all the hyped up previews! I feel like every single week, this season of Big Break is really bringing it. From the producers, cameramen, the hosts and the players, they all are doing an amazing job keeping this long running season fun and interesting!

I was excited to see the blackjack challenge right out of the gate. All golfers are essentially gamblers. Putting up our money to try and gain it back through our performance. This challenge should be right up their alley and it’s fun to see their poker face! Golf is such an emotional game so it was interesting to see them keep their emotions completely contained. If we all apply this mindset to our tournament golf, it would probably help us a lot, for as many times as our emotions get the better of us.

Annie:  I think Jackie said it best on this show – every week out on Tour golfers are gambling – paying their entry fee and hoping their game is good enough that week to come out on top.  Professional golf is so different from other professional sports, because the golfers have to finance themselves.  It’s one of the few professional sports where we have to pay to play.  I had a lot of friends go on to play their respective sports after college, and they were getting pay checks for sitting on the bench.  Not golf.  Whether you’re winning tournaments or missing every cut, you still have to find the way to pay in order to travel and compete.  It’s tough! 

Kelly: To start off the challenge, I was very impressed with Mary’s two-shot blackjack! She has been struggling with her distance control, so it was nice to see her dial it in.

Out of all the competitors, I think Jackie is the smartest. She always thinks her way through  the challenges while not letting her nerves and emotions rule her game. She is such an accomplished golfer and I think she can attribute a lot of her success to the mental part of her game.

Annie: I agree.  For people watching the show who don’t know these girls, I think she comes across as the most confident in her own game.  She seems to know her own game better than any of the other girls and is arguably the most accomplished player on Big Break Florida.  It’s fun to watch her think her way through each of these challenges. 

Kelly: Skipping to the last match, I loved that Renee decided to hit another shot when she was sitting at “18”.  Even though her ball came up just shy of the 3-point square, it was great to see her aggressive, confident play!

Annie:  Until she busted..

I was impressed to see Mary, Jackie, and Sadena all take the $2,500 cash when given the choice of cash or a mulligan.  What were your thoughts?

Kelly: Immunity is one thing, but to lose all that money just for a mulligan is definitely not worth it. Golf is so unpredictable; your mulligan could end up worse than your original shot. Good choice ladies!

Annie:  These three girls are probably the biggest gamblers of the group, so I wasn’t surprised that they all took the cash.  I don’t think choosing the mulligan would have been a bad choice, though.  Especially because golf is so unpredictable, and Big Break is even more unpredictable, choosing a mulligan would have been understandable – just boring.

Kelly: During the Immunity Challenge the girls had to combine their drives with their approach shots. I was interested to see the girls string together a few shots since we havn’t seen this besides in elimination.

Annie: Yes! These types of challenges help to separate the good players from the great players.  I like to watch these because it’s a better test of a player’s entire game.

Kelly: Ok, totally not golf related but how great was it when Melanie Collins was picking on Tom Abbott about his body type. Ha ha.  I watched that clip a few times! They were talking about how much distance a golfer could gain if they put on a lot of muscle. Melanie proceeds to tell Tom he has zero muscle on his body.  Ha ha Melanie, it took me awhile, but I just became a big fan.

Annie: Attention Big Break producers: I want more clips like this!  I was laughing at their banter as well. I also liked Tom’s “cat amongst the pigeons” comment.  I didn’t know what it meant, but I still laughed.  

Kelly: The top-two golfers during this multi-shot challenge were immune and Jackie, Kylee and Renee had to go into a playoff to determine the top two. I agreed with them completely when they thought whoever lost that playoff was going to be chosen for elimination. It’s always interesting to see the dynamics between the players, but it’s hard when you know politics play a big factor in your survival on the show.

Annie:  I think “politics” only goes so far on a show like this. I have a hard time believing that any of these girls would choose a girl for elimination that they didn’t think they could beat.  If you go into elimination, you’re going to choose the person who you think you have the best shot at sending home.  Right…?

Kelly: Both Jackie and Renee hit great shots and secured immunity for another week. Of course the predictions were right.  Fiamma chose Kylee for elimination. That would be a big emotional swing. Going from a playoff to win the entire challenge, to being in elimination.

Annie:  Watching Fiamma talk to Mary about who to pick for elimination was so aggravating to me!  Fiamma – figure out how to make your own decisions.   Mary – what are you doing? You should be practicing because you’re up for elimination!  It was pretty irritating to watch, but a smart move by Mary.  By offering “advice” she was really taking herself out of the equation.  You knew Fiamma wasn’t going to choose Mary after that conversation.  I do think Fiamma made the best choice by choosing Kylee for elimination, but the way she went about it just didn’t seem right. 

Kelly: We can always count on Mary for some type of drama and this time it came towards the end of the day. She was telling Fiamma who to choose in the challenge, ultimately making sure that Fiamma didn't chose her. Then proceeded to play both sides of the fence and tried to buddy up with Kylee. I can only imagine how annoyed Kylee was at this fake gesture, but honestly who can blame Mary for trying to keep her enemies close?

Annie:  I think this whole scenario showed Fiamma’s weakness more than anything.  If she’s not able to make her own decisions or analyze this game by herself, I won’t be surprised if we see her go home soon.

Kelly: I was proud of Kylee for sticking up for herself which then resulted in Mary calling Kylee a “witch” and saying she has a bad attitude. Wait….this is coming from Mary? Does she have any room to talk? I guess so, because she just did, and she’ll continue to do so.

Fiamma ends up winning and lives to see another day. How clutch was her birdie-birdie performance. I was very impressed and it proves that she was a very underrated player...until today.

Annie:  Let’s not forget about the help of that oak tree.  Her drive on the second hole was headed for No-Man’s-Land until it hit the tree and kicked into the middle of the fairway.  To spray that shot so far right with a one shot lead makes me think she’s not as clutch as she came across in this elimination challenge.  She hit a really bad shot at a high pressure moment, but just got an incredibly lucky break.  I will give her credit – she did capitalize on it by making a great putt and finishing with a second birdie. 

Kelly: I feel like most people could predict the outcome of this Elimination Challenge. Not based off of talent, but solely due to Kylee’s emotions heading into the challenge. She was still pissed and you could tell she carried all of those emotions into elimination. She is a great player, but still young. She showed us what she can do and I'm looking forward to seeing where golf will take her.

Annie:  Sometimes on Big Break, a player who we think will last a while will go home earlier than expected.   This hasn’t happened yet on Big Break Florida.  I feel like every week, the weakest players are going home.  Kylee seems to have a lot of potential; she’s just a bit inexperienced.  And I do think her attitude got the best of her this week.  With another year or so of playing experience, I’m sure we’ll be following her soon out on the Symetra Tour. Hopefully this experience on Big Break was a good one for her and has helped take her game to a new level. 

Looks like next week we will be seeing more drama unfold with the “friendships” that have been established.  Is it Monday yet?!

Getty Images

Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. 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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.