A Producer's Perspective on the Final 3

By Big Break ProducerDecember 12, 2012, 1:00 pm

Imagine writing a really important email… one that is going out to the entire company… your whole world revolves around this ONE email.   Imagine as if you’ve poured everything into this once piece of literature and devoted countless hours ensuring that every word is spelled correctly, all the punctuation is properly place… and now, once you’ve finished, you now have your mouse waiting, hovering over the SEND button… that sense of panic that washes over you as you press the button and see your masterpiece go off into the world.  Now it becomes a waiting game.

The casting process for Big Break has a similar feeling. As producers there is so much deliberation as to who gets the nod and who gets the ax… on top of all the meetings and screenings of audition video there is the never-ending internal dialogue we have with ourselves. It’s as if we are Santa… we’ve made our list and now we are checking it twice hoping we can find out whose naughty and nice.

But once we make those final cast decisions, once we hit send, we are locked, we are finished and now we have to hope we made the correct choices.

When Isaac eliminated Rick, completing our final three alongside Mark and James, I remember a wave of relief washing over me.  I knew that the three best golfers were representing the Big Break series. I knew that we had three interesting and dynamic characters that were set to do battle for the right to compete for a life-altering prize package.  I know that not only were we poised to have a great finale but we were also in place for a phenomenal final three show… both of which we got. 

Last Break Champion – Chan Song

I have to give Chan Song some love because he played so well during the Last Break online competition.  Chan has a swing and a golfing demeanor that wouldn’t lead you to believe he’s got world class game but this man can play.  Having spent some quality time with Chan you realize just how driven he really is – how badly he wants to become a star playing golf.  He wants to step out of the shadows his sisters cast and anoint himself as the King Song… question is, will he? His brief return to Big Break in this show proved he was slightly outgunned and deserved his elimination when he got it.  With that said, let me give you a little back story on Chan so that you can make your own informed opinion.  After graduating from Georgia Tech in 2005, Chan tried to play professional golf in Asia and in the US… but was sidelined for nearly two and a half years following wrist surgery.  Up until the fall of 2011, Chan was NOT playing golf at all.  He was recovering from an invasive wrist procedure to help alleviate a lot of pain he had been dealing with and now that he’s healthy, he’s ready to give golf its proper try. Best of luck to Chan.

A producer’s perspective on the Final 3

Tin Cup is by far one of the great golfing movies of all time. Why lead with this? You’ll see…keep reading.
The elimination match between Rick and Isaac proved to be a turning point for Isaac, not playing wise, but reality TV-wise… This was the show that he realized he’s in LOVE with the spotlight and that he didn’t want to give it up anytime soon.  Isaac struck me as a guy who can be somewhat introverted when you first meet him but once he opens up, he’s all yours.  In show 9 and show 10, I felt like Isaac had finally arrived.  All series long Isaac was his true self… he was Isaac Sanchez but I felt he was his truest self once he came back to the house after his great play and subsequent elimination of Rick.

In the 1st challenge (Drive/Approach challenge where we saw Chan comeback) Mark made the following comment about Isaac, “Isaac, as we’ve learned every show, he’s going to hit the aggressive shot.”

After 13 seasons of producing Big Break, and a big fan of the remaining 5 series, I can say without the slightest bit of doubt, Isaac is/was the MOST aggressive player to ever compete on Big Break. He was such a stark contrast from the entire cast of ladies from Big Break Atlantis.  That was a series that saw three or four people go to elimination each episode and for being the ‘best’ of the worst that day, the lady with the highest Championship Point total, you could buy your way out of elimination.  Now those Championship Points were important because you could gain a spot in the FINALE if you reached 100 points… and for the ladies to just hand over their points EVERYTIME to survive one more day was NOT the strategy we would have seen had Isaac been competing under those same rules.  He was a man who stared elimination in the face and said “bring it.” Isaac was a man who went head on in the face of adversity… he was our Roy McAvoy… our very large and intimidating Tin Cup

And for me, as a guy who always roots for the underdog, a guy who can quote the entire movie of Tin Cup… I can honestly say I am officially a member of the Isaac Sanchez fan club. I wish him the best of luck in his life’s pursuits. 

Mark Silvers vs. James Lepp Final Match

There is not much to say other than tune in next week. These two guys are the most deserving to be in the finale… at least Mark.

Mark never needed to compete in an elimination challenge and only reached the 2nd immunity challenge twice (show 1 and show 8).  James struggled for a bit in the middle of the series but certainly proved his merit by eliminating Brian in episode 8 and then dominating the early challenges in the next two shows, winning stroke advantages, $10,000 and a place in the final match of Big Break Greenbrier.

Please and thank you’s

This is my last blog of the series and with that I always thank those who helped me these last 7 months with the show, with life and with my withdrawals from lack of golf.

Gaston Santiso – lead editor and friend.  What a series and what a team we made.  I don’t know if there is an edit he can’t make nor a show he doesn’t make better by simply being involved.  Many thanks to all your hard work and for sitting by me for 5+ months wondering where the next edit should be.  Your talent and dedication are truly inspiring.

To my co-producers Scott Lee and Chris Graham – a thousand and one thanks for all your assistance in making this show as great as we envisioned it 9 months ago! 

To the editors and sound team – Max Miller (great 1st season – here’s to many more!), Derek Locke (another wonderful performance for a tremendous editor), Pat Devlin, Andy Ebert, Tom Heckbert and Derek Kuchman – many thanks for your fill-in edit assistance – you truly helped us cross the finish line with class.  Scott Perry and his team – applause to each of you for a great sounding show.

Anthony Valle and David Cybulski – the impact you have on our show should never be overlooked nor forgotten – great job!

Jon Painter, Ryan Griffiths and Bobby Lataille – what a great bonus it was to have at our disposal a talented pool of producers when it came to putting together a great production team – thanks gentlemen.  And to the production management team of Darlene Figueroa, Sharona Hughes, Kristan Kosh and Rizza Baker – you ladies know how much you kill it on a daily basis and now the internet knows too – you all rock!

To Jay Kossoff and Paul Schlegel – the creativity and guidance you provide cease to amaze me.  Thank you for your trust and loyalty.  Here’s to another wonderful series and to many more!

Last but certainly never least; I need to thank my beautiful wife, Lauren, who deals with me clicking away on my computer late into the night as she’s trying to sleep. No more long edits – the honey-do list can resume! You are my everything! I love you.

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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.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and 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.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.