Inches Makes Miles

By Big Break ProducerNovember 28, 2012, 1:00 pm

“Golf is a game of inches.”

It’s almost a tired old golf cliché ¬− or at least it would be if it weren’t so damn true.  Think about it for more than six seconds and you can probably come up with your own examples of this time-tested adage at work for—but mostly against—you.

And just in case you had trouble coming up with your own cases of inches making all the difference in the golf world, recent Big Break history provides some pretty clear “inch”-stances.

There was episode 5 of Big Break Dominican Republic, when teams were charged with the task of hitting increasing length tee shots.  Hit it farther than your team’s previous effort, in the fairway, and you get to keep going.  With 104 yards on the board and hitting her team’s 5th shot, Lori Atesedes bested her teammate’s distance by a whopping 3 inches to continue their run.  Epically, their increasing length clinic would go another 7 shots before the “Glossy Posse” finally ran out of fairway.

In episode 3 of Big Break Atlantis, Zakiya Randall was all set to enjoy not only immunity, but an afternoon at the Aquaventure Waterpark when suddenly her plans were ruined by Aubrey McCormick.  Aubrey’s bunker shot snuck inside Zakiya’s mark by just 2 inches, setting off a chain of events that saw “Z” getting more exercise than she wished for (i.e. taking the walk).

And so it was with Brian in this week’s episode of Big Break Greenbrier.  Through no fault of his own, Brian advanced to the winners match in the second Immunity Challenge, in which the player nearest the hole and in the fairway got to decide who would play to the green.  Hit the green, and you win; miss the green, and your opponent gets the W.

The key part in this match was that in the fairway bit.

Brian teed off first against Mark, and his drive splashed through the bunker, coming to rest in the rough a mere 6 inches short of reaching the fairway.  Mark promptly stepped up to the tee and yanked his somewhere left of Bill Maher.
Had Brian’s ball made it to the short grass, he would not only have been in the driver’s seat, but he would have taken the car all the way back to the Summit Village, where he’d be resting up for another day of golf.  But in his own words (which we couldn’t show you at the time because it would have revealed too much) it “later turned out to be [that] much between the end of everything”.

If Brian’s in the fairway, one of two things happens.  Either he hits short iron into a welcoming green or he makes Mark play Harry Houdini for a day and take his chances with a jailbreak shot from a spot Google maps still doesn’t know about.

Instead, they re-teed, and Mark took control of the match—not to mention the destiny of both players.

For what it’s worth, Brian should not look back and lament the 6 inches that cost him his Big Break life.  Ultimately it was the dozens of collective yards that he was off line with his driver throughout the course of the series.  His mid-to-short range game was never in question, as indicated by Isaac when he felt threatened enough to knock Brian out of the B-R-E-A-K challenge.

But Big Break is still a game of inches, and in this case, the inches added up to miles − sent back home, miles away from America’s resort.  And what must have felt like miles away from the ultimate goal.

Of course, Brian’s journey has already spanned many miles − not that you would know it to look at him.  The fire that he occasionally displays on the course is the same one that fuels his desire to be the best at whatever it is he does, even in defiance of age.

Coop is like a Montreal bagel, rough and hard on the outside, but on the inside he’s just a big softy.  This is a guy whose bottom lip starts to quiver at the thought of someday being a father.  Away from the course, you’ll struggle to find a more gentlemanly individual.

But inside the ropes, he refuses to budge.  Even an inch.

Some additional notes:

• James hit no fewer than 4 shots with his eyes closed in this episode.  In case you hadn’t noticed, James is an extremely cerebral player.  He says closing his eyes during the swing keeps him from trying to make adjustments on the way down.

• Rick’s strategy to re-play the third location in the B-R-E-A-K challenge seemed like a good idea at the time.  But it backfired, as he ant Isaac indicated (in hindsight), by giving great players a second chance at the same shot.

• Mark is your average superstitious golfer.  While preparing to play the second Immunity Challenge, Mark asked for a blue Sharpie that he could use to mark his ball.  Several members of the production crew had Sharpies, but none were blue.  At the last minute, Production Assistant Will Walker raced to the tee with a blue Sharpie that he had obtained back at the production office, and the rest is history.

• The Drive/Who Will Approach format in the second Immunity Challenge is basically an offshoot of the Pitch/Who Will Putt challenge, as seen in episode 4 and on other seasons of Big Break.  Other variations have also been used.

• As the belt buckle would indicate, Brian is a die-hard Steelers fan.  And while he left home without his, the friendly and capable Greenbrier staff was able to provide him with a Terrible Towel.  That’s the one Brian waves during his final walk.

• In addition to the shooting adventures at the Gun Club, The Greenbrier offers a host of unique guest experiences for thrill seekers, including: falconry, mountain biking, an Alpine climbing tower, kayaking/white water rafting, paint ball and off-road driving.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''