The Real Brian Cooper

By Big BreakNovember 2, 2012, 8:00 pm

Where to begin with Episode 5. Just like any other morning, it started out very early, foggy and did I say it was early? Breakfast was just as good as the day before as Golf Channel made it a point to make sure that we were more than taken care of. Breakfast was great, just a little more quiet.  I’m not sure if that is because we were losing people by the show or if tensions were just getting that much higher. I think it was more the pressure.
 
Once on the course, loosening up and hitting balls, we found out that we were finally getting to one of the hallmark shots of Big Break – 'The Flop Wall'. Once we made it out to the course and actually saw the wall, TV does not do the wall justice. It's more than just the fact that the wall is 9 feet, you can't see your target behind the wall, so the illusion of the wall seems even bigger.
 
The rules of the challenge were simple.  Three flop shots from three different distances; 9 feet, 6 feet and 3 feet. No excuses from me, but something just didn't feel right to me – both in my head and with my golf swing – but I'm a gamer and I had to make this work. The flop shot to me is a fairly easy shot. I play it well and feel very comfortable with the shot. My first shot was less than desirable, but I just couldn't imagine using my mulligan so early. In a regular event, that putt is makeable, but we're not putting, so screw that thought pattern. Only one player hit a short worse than mine, Rick. So, we had some distance to make up. Ray, Mark and Anthony hit really good shots with Ray actually holing out his mulligan shot. With my second attempt, I didn't really do much better and knew at this point that there was no chance that I would advance through this challenge, so it was time for me to get my head right for the second challenge, because I was going to need it. It was now just a matter of who was going to be safe and who would be joining me at the second location. After the third and hardest chip – it was my best shot I might add – and the best shot of the final location was 2 feet. Mark and Issac were safe and they deserved it.
 
The second Immunity Challenge consisted of three locations. A greenside chip that had to be within 5 feet, a shot from about 140 yards that had to be within 12 feet and then the toughest of the shots – a side hill shot from about 180 yards that had to be within 25ft. I really needed to redeem myself, but again, I was struggling mentally and had to battle through.  James was the head of the class at location one with the saucer pass.  There was a mixture of success for the guys, but I really stunk it up.  As the show indicated, I was very frustrated.  Many people think my frustration was directed at Anthony, but in fact it was more directed at my inability to handle shots that I've handled in my sleep. Anthony just happened to show sympathy at the wrong time. Unlike some people, I made it a point to apologize to Anthony very quickly, it just was not caught on TV. So, I was in last place and staring the Elimination Challenge dead in the face. On to location two.  The guys really struggled. By the time it got to me, I had the chance to make a huge move with one swing of the club and that is what I did. I painted the flag and moved into solo third and on the advancement line to move onto the next show. One location left and my horrible day could be forgotten. If you think the guys struggled at location two, location three was even worse.  No one did anything worth mentioning and when I had my fate in my own hands, I threw up all over them and paved my way to the Elimination round. All that was left was who was going with me and who was I picking.
 
It came down to me having to choose between Rick and Ray. Ray, being my roommate while on the show was a tough pick for sentimental reasons but reason and feelings had to be thrown out the window. I had to pick whom I thought I matched up better with or whom I thought was playing just as poorly as me. There were lots of rumblings from the other guys during play and at lunch about who was struggling and what not. The consensus, although not asked for was that Ray was maybe not on top of his game, but I knew Rick wasn't either. I saw the shots, I just had to weigh pros and cons. When it was all settled, the main factor in my decision was I just didn't know enough about Rick's game to pick him. So, I picked my roommate. Not an easy pick, because he and I both wanted to make the final duel together.
 
The elimination was simple. It took place on the 14th hole on the Snead Course and played out from three locations, playing the hole twice. The first location was from 180 yards and I was first to play. It wasn't about pin seeking, it was more about hitting a good shot and making Ray match it. I thought I hit a shot better than the one I hit, but was pleased with the outcome, under the pin about 15 feet away. I knew I could make this putt. Ray followed me with a good shot of his own and would putt first. When he missed, I felt a surge for the first time today, because I was finally in charge. Something that I did not feel all day. However, I missed my putt, even though it was tracking the whole way. Just a lack of pace.
 
Back to the tee and I chose driver, even though I had been struggling with the driver since I arrived. Before I hit my tee shot – I think it was simple to see that I was not hitting the driver well – I was thinking, “try to apply pressure.” Unfortunately, due the horrendous tee shot, I gave Ray relief because I was in two feet of high hay with pretty much a prayer. He hit the fairway and then hit a good wedge to about 15 feet. Then it was my turn. Not a great lie, two foot high fescue and existence on the show at stake. What happened next was probably the best shot I've ever hit under the circumstances in my life. Not only did I get it out of the hay, but managed to get it on the green at pretty much the same location as my first putt. Ray putted first and when his putt peeked at the hole but slid by, I again had the chance to close this out. I think I hit the exact same putt, same pace, same result, about two rolls of pace short from the heart.
 
Back to the tee.  Ray, sticking to his iron play, hit another good tee shot in almost the same position. Me on the other hand, I stuck with driver even after that awful tee shot. I didn't hit it much better, but this was in play and I had an okay look at the pin. Ray played first and hit a really good shot but it spun off the green. Again, I felt a surge knowing that if I could get a good shot, I would have the advantage. Seeing Ray's shot spin pretty severely from right of the pin, I thought that I had a great angle and the possibility of getting it close. I could not have played it any better with 10 balls. I hit it on the right edge of the green and it caught the slope and rolled to about six feet. When Ray missed his putt, it was my time. I had to take some time to collect myself – so many thoughts were racing through my head. When that putt went in, all of the bad shots of the day were forgotten, and I felt this surge of emotion rush through me. All that kept going through my head was, I wish my Dad were here to see this and the moment took over.
 
I think by the looks of the show, I'm made out to be the hot head, but in reality, those who know me know I am something different. I didn't grow up a golfer, I grew up playing contact sports, so being physical and showing emotion is what I know. I'm an emotional golfer. I expect a lot out of myself and when I don't perform to my standards, I show that emotion. I don't do it to be 'that' guy or to disrespect my family, friends, fans, the game of golf, sponsors and most importantly, myself. I'd like to think that those who saw the end of the show and my interview see the other side of me, the side that is a family man, who holds everyone accountable, who respects the game and one who shows just how much this opportunity and the game of golf means to me. It means so much to me, it sometimes hurts me to my core.
 
Take the time learn about the real Brian Cooper, I think you'd like him. He sure likes and appreciates you for tuning in to Big Break Greenbrier.

Thanks,

Brian Cooper

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.