A Room Divided

By Big Break ProducerOctober 31, 2012, 12:00 pm

In four seasons of working as a producer on the Big Break I have frequently heard from competitors that the best part of being on the show is the relationships that are developed with fellow cast members.

At times it’s the worst part.

Many viewers will remember the story of “Clutch” Carl Whyte and Robbie Biershenk (aka “Shank”) from Big Break Indian Wells.  On the surface the two have less in common than Ford and Chevy men.   The fact that they were roommates on the show was completely by chance.  The friendship they forged was by choice.

Twice on the Indian Wells series, Carl and Shank had to face off in emotionally charged duels (Carl won both times), and each time the result was highly dramatic both during and immediately after the challenge.  That’s the nature—in many ways, the essence—of the Big Break.  The competition comes and goes.  The exemptions and cash are eventually spent.  The friendships remain.

Flash forward to the Greenbrier, where another battle of the buds was brewing in episode 5 between Brian and Ray.

Some friends are born out of camaraderie.  This one seems rooted in mutual respect.

Though they come from very different parts of the world ¬– Brian is blue-collar, Pittsburgh through-and-through, Ray a savvy and slick Aussie in flashy pants – the Phoenix area of Arizona has become their adopted home.  My job on Big Break Greenbrier afforded me the opportunity to get to know Brian and Ray in their own back yards.

Brian and his wife Shelley are the embodiment of the adage that “life begins at forty”.  After finding each other later in life, it’s obvious they both realize the importance of making every moment count.They value family and friendship above all else.  If you’re ever lucky enough to be invited to dinner at the Coopers’ house, make sure Brian’s blackened tilapia is on the menu.  (Follow Brian, as I do, @CoopsGolf – but don’t expect the recipe.)

A Scottsdale transplant by way of Australia’s Gold Coast, Ray is 20 years Brian’s junior and as tough as his background in rugby would lead you to believe.  (The black eye he sustained while shooting some rugby scenes for the Big Break Greenbrier preview show serves as evidence.)  The next time you’re looking for a tremendously entertaining Friday night in Scottsdale, look for Ray at Harold’s Corral or the Buffalo Chip Saloon.  You won’t be disappointed.

So the two men from vastly different backgrounds found more common ground as they became roommates in West Virginia, and ultimately opponents in an Elimination Challenge.  A room divided.

Brian’s choice between Rick and Ray was not an easy one.  After cruising through the first 3 shows, Rick had finally shown some vulnerability.  But it’s hard to put yourself in a match against the guy who shot 63 on the Old White TPC in the practice round.  So you go with the guy who’s spent a year on the Web.com Tour.  Such is life on this Big Break.

Like that Safe City bench at the chipping location, Brian was kicking himself for getting into this spot in the first place.

As Brian made clear, it was nothing personal.  By the time they reached the elimination challenge, Ray expected it.  What the rest of us expected was a very good match.  And we got it.

As the guys said after the match, another birdie – and another good player gone.

Some additional notes:

• According to Brian, the most nervous he’s ever been over a golf ball was on his shot from the fescue in regulation of the elimination challenge.

• In his 3 attempts at the flop wall in the first Immunity Challenge, Mark averaged exactly 2 feet 11 inches per shot.  And he never bothered to watch where his ball landed.

• Though Brian calls the flop wall “that 9 foot beast” in episode 5, the wall is in actuality 8 feet tall.  (We kept the reference in there because it makes it seem even scarier, and hey, it’s close enough.)

• Did you notice the rectangular cut in the rough on the right side of the green in the first Immunity Challenge during episode 4?  (Ray’s tee shot lands directly in the middle of it.)  The cut was made in anticipation of the flop wall challenge, which would take place on that same hole on the Snead Course one day later.

• For a man who’s got hands as big as catcher’s mitts, Isaac has surprisingly soft touch around the greens.  So soft, in fact, that he can’t even hold onto a rainbow trout.

• Episode 5 marked the second appearance of James’ hockey-inspired “saucer pass” shot.  The former victim of the chip yips was the only player to score a 1 at the first location in the second Immunity Challenge.  (Note: “The sauce” does not work well at a flop wall.)

• James’ inability to hit inside 25 feet from the last location in the second Immunity Challenge nearly cost him dearly.  He went from firmly in control of his destiny to relying on others to bail him out - which they did.

• Despite his lack of confidence, Anthony continues to impress his fellow competitors with timely shots.  The shot that earned him immunity was actually the second time he hit the green in that playoff (during the second Immunity Challenge).  The first had to be cut do to time constraints.  Ray also hit the green once in that playoff, before eventually falling to Anthony.

• For the record, Chan does not eat extra grass when he is in the rough.

• Rick would later say that the most nervous he’s been on the show was when Brian reached out to shake his hand on the range right before choosing Ray to compete in the Elimination Challenge.

• Astute Big Break viewers may have noticed that the man Ray tackled in the preview show to get his black eye was none other than Matt Melrose, the South African native who competed on Big Break Ireland.  Ray and Matt have a regular game when they’re both home in Scottsdale.  It can get pretty ruthless.

Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.