$50K or Exemption?

By Big Break ProducerOctober 3, 2012, 2:00 pm

I’m in the business of making golfer’s dreams come true.  That statement may sound a little profound but I believe it to be the truth. I (along with many talented people) produce a series that help struggling professional golfers realize their dream of playing on the PGA TOUR.  That’s our sales pitch to the over 3,400 people that tried out for this show. And for the 12 guys we selected, their dream is exactly what is on the line– a spot in the field to tee it up with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and many other world class players. That and $50K… not to mention a whole assortment of other great prizes.

With that said, I think it’s safe to say my statement holds water. We are in the business of making golfer’s dreams come true.

The reason I bring up the prize package and the PGA TOUR exemption is because I wanted to give you insight as to what our cast valued more.  When asked the question (ask yourself as well):

If you could have only ONE of the following what would you take?

            $50,000 or a PGA TOUR exemption?

The cast of Greenbrier overwhelmingly replied EXEMPTION!  I thought maybe one or two guys might have said the cash but all 12 went with the exemption.  Their reasoning: the possibilities of a spot in the field on the PGA Tour can be endless for guys like them.  So when the players are talking about pressure, the nature of Big Break and how ‘under-the-gun’ they feel from their 1st shot to their last, that’s what they’re thinking about… they’re thinking about being so close to their dream they can taste it and they don’t want to screw it up.

That’s what Big Break is all about to our cast and how it mirrors my sentiment towards a series I love so much. 

Onto the show.

Glass Break

This was a very cool challenge that took over a month to finalize.  In the end, it came out like we hoped.  We wanted to know which players were the gamblers (Isaac, Rick, Liam, James, Brian), which players were the cerebral-thinking types (Chan, Mike, Mark) and the ones who flew by the seat of their pants (Anthony, Derek, Stuart, Ray).

This challenge was tough for the competitors not only from a golfing stand-point but from a mental standpoint which is the goal for any Big Break challenge. Quick facts/Comments: Ray Beaufils goes down as the 1st player in Big Break history to attempt a throw while in competition during the glass break.

James’ breaking of the glass may be the fastest ever in Big Break history… it was certainly the most impressive 1st shot I’ve seen on Big Break.  25 yards away, 1 shot – break – thanks for coming.  Not bad for guy who has stepped away from 2 years ago to start his own shoe company.

Liam and Rick both broke their panes at the exact same time…down to the hundredth. When we went to record Liam’s time, we were as surprised as he was… if not more.

Anthony “that’s how you break glass” Casalino! His new son will be quite proud of Dad when he greets the world sometime in December.


We did something very similar to this challenge at Big Break Disney but I much prefer this format.  I liked that each guy got 2 shots; I loved the choice element where the players chose their distances and I was NOT surprised that 310 was the lowest ‘SAFE’ score.  Kudos to Mike for employing a very ballsy strategy.  As a former college basketball player and career 75% free throw shooter, Mike’s thinking when he saw the challenge – it’s a free throw contest – hit the same 2 shots, move on.

Isaac is the biggest gambler on the cast and ALWAYS tries to win a challenge.  2nd place (to quote one of Rick Cochran’s favorite Will Ferrell characters) is never good enough: “if you’re not 1st, you’re last.”

Mark’s combined distance on his two shots (proximity to the hole from 154/195 yards) was 18 feet 10 inches. That’s pretty good considering his 1st shot measured a little less than 15 feet.

Derek chose two distances he felt were perfect for him.  Standing next to him, he hit the center of the clubface on both shots.  But he forgot to factor in the adrenaline factor and it cost him.  Normal 9 iron for Derek = 154 (show 1 distance: 173 yards).  Normal 6 iron for Derek = 188 (show 1 distance: 201 yards).


I was completely shocked by Derek’s pick of Isaac.  On the range the entire cast was saying he HAS to choose Stu.  They were commenting that Stu had missed both shots in the approach challenge worse than Isaac and Derek’s length, especially on a par-five, favors D-Boh (as he’s known on the mini-tours).  MAKE NO MISTAKE, Stu can golf his ball and was absolutely killing it on the range.  He remains an enigma to the cast and even for us producers.  On any given challenge, no one knows which Stu will show up… I have to believe Derek will always wonder if he made the right decision.

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.