“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.
Inches Makes Miles
“Golf is a game of inches.”
Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8
Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.
In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."
What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:
Tiger Woods’ 2006 9&8 win at Match Play over Stephen Ames https://t.co/KlB39aNUZB— Skratch (@Skratch) March 20, 2018
After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."
Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.
Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play
AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.
Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.
“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”
This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.
“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.
Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am
The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.
The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.
The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.
"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."
First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.
Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.
Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.
Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.
Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.
Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.
Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.
Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.
P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.
Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.
Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.