Reflecting on First Half of the Season

By Big Break ProducerNovember 21, 2012, 1:00 pm

We have reached the halfway point of Big Break Greenbrier – what was a cast of 12 are now 6.  It is customary that when we get to this point in the series we ask the players to reflect on their Big Break journeys thus far. Here are their perspectives in their own words:

Rick Cochran:  “Everybody remaining has got a chance at winning.  You know all it takes is one good shot, or on the opposite of that, one bad shot and you’re going home.”

Brian Cooper: “If you can’t believe that being a champion is a reality for you, you shouldn't be here. Of course I think it’s a possibility!”Mark Silvers: “I really do believe that I can win but I also have to keep in mind that it doesn't take much, especially at this point, in the show to get the boot.”

Isaac Sanchez:” I definitely think becoming a PGA Tour champion is a reality for me. As long as I stay on the path that I’m on and work on the things I need to work on and it’ll only be a matter of time.”

James Lepp: “I had kind of a rough last couple episodes and if you asked me three episodes ago if I could be a true Big Break champion, I would say, yeah. I still believe it but I will say that the pressure that the Big Break brings is a lot different than anything I’ve experienced.”

Anthony Casalino: “Wanting to win and thinking you can win are two different things. I wanted to have that money; I wanted to be able to play in The Greenbrier Classic. It sucks; I mean I don’t know what else to say about it, I don’t know what to do.”

I put Anthony’s sound last to highlight a distinct difference between players that can play and players that believe they can play. Once you reach the pinnacle of any sport a definitive separation appears at the top – and it’s exclusively divided by BELIEF. 

Anthony is a VERY talented golfer but he’s also eliminated for one obvious reason – he didn’t believe he could play. He outlasted Ray Beaufils (former tour player) and Mike Tobiason (played in the 2011 US Open) and several other quality golfers which should be something for him to hang his hat on.  The question is, can he? Will he?

In nine years of producing golf television, I’ve had the honor to stand next to the number one player in the world and watch him (and her) hit golf ball after golf ball on the range. I followed the PGA Tour for two years covering news and instruction.  I have been to every major mini-tour in America and have seen over 3,000 professional golfers swing a club. I’ve been on 13 separate Big Break shoots.  I’m not going to say Anthony Casalino was the best golfer I’ve ever seen…that would not be true.  I will say that Anthony’s game can be and sometimes was quite impressive.

One final Anthony anecdote:

I produced Anthony’s biography video in New York and watched him hit 5/5 fairways and 7/7 greens after not hitting a single warm up shot and after two practice swings.  He was giving Cliff Katz a playing lesson during our shoot and I was struck by the quality and the crispness of Anthony shots.  He shaped his golf ball the way he intended and maneuvered around the course with precision. While this may not impress any of you, it certainly made me appreciate Big Break Greenbrier’s version of “Eeyore.”

Moving on…

We have reached the Final 5!!!


Going into this series, I promised great golf and great competition.  I don’t think I need to point out the great shots from this show but allow me to highlight a few key moments.

Isaac’s 2nd drive in the Avis Extra Effort Immunity Challenge traveled 302 yards and was ‘technically’ 1 yard off-line.  Because of our scoring system, we rounded to the nearest yard and because Isaac’s drive didn’t land ON THE LINE, he lost 1 yard when he ACTUALLY measured just 1 foot and 7 inches away from the center line.  That was fun to see… and in the next episode you’re going to see a shot Isaac hits that comes down to mere inches with Immunity on the line.

Rick Cochran is the shortest (height) competitor left on the series.  And if you asked anyone of the cast WHO hits it the longest (Isaac included) EVERYONE would say Rick.  That’s impressive especially when you factor in Rick’s ball flight is a cut which means little to no roll. Although Rick ONLY hit a drive of 307 yards… coming back to the bench, Rick was mad.  Later that night, Rick was pissed off because “DRIVING is what I do,” he told me.

Brian Cooper HATES misses golf shots.  I don’t know if you noticed, Brian has the tendency to get a LITTLE angry when things don’t go his way. And if you’ve seen his outbursts then chances are you’ve seen his responses. EVERY time Brian has vented and taken out his frustration on benches, clubs, water bottles and empty golf ball boxes, he finds a way to channel his focus in a positive manner. Brian would have recorded the only perfect score in the approach challenge had it not been for a rogue train conductor.

The PGA Tour average for Greens hit from 125-150 yards for the 2012 season was 73.4%.  Our approach challenge in this show had the guys hitting from 140 yards, with 6 guys hitting 3 shots each… that equals… (4 plus 7…carry the 1…) 18!  How many guys from the show missed the green? 0, zero, none, nobody.  Pretty good. 

Mark Silvers wins again and not just with AVIS… Mark qualified for Final Stage of Q-School this week and heads to California in December to pursue his dream of playing on the PGA Tour. This has been a tough year for Mark off the course; he lost his father three weeks before we began filming the show in June.  Mark said that he knows “he’s looking down smiling” as a “proud father” after all he’s accomplished this year:  a solid season on the NGA Tour where he finished 3rd on the money list that included a win and 10 top-10’s in 13 total events. Best of luck to Mark – you earned it!

Final note:

James averted another elimination challenge after Isaac selected Anthony marking the second time in four shows that’s happened. The 2005 NCAA Champ and two-time Canadian Tour winner NEEDS to pick up his game.  The rust is certainly showing… anyone have any suggestions?

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.