The Big Delay

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerMay 17, 2011, 2:30 am

What you saw in the premiere was not a fabricated incident; a solely made-for-TV moment designed for your entertainment, and only your entertainment in mind.  No, no.  Unlike most of the other “reality” TV we’re all inundated with these days, we present the actual “reality” of what happens during the filming of the series.  So yes, Kent really was “defacto-booted” from that flight.  It was only pure luck and/or excellent snap-decision making that made his late arrival what it turned out to be.  It also was a perfect summation to what had already become a very trying lead-in to the first shoot date of Big Break Indian Wells

The filming of this series took place from January 3rd - 16th, with “essential crew” (Production Management, Producers, Directors, etc.) arriving on site just a couple of days after Christmas.  This window of production time would prove to be…um…difficult.  To say that shooting a television series over the holidays is not ideal, is like the Black Night in Monty Python and the Holy Grail saying “it’s just a flesh wound” after having both arms cut off.  It’s a wicked understatement. 

I spent the holidays with my family, as I usually do, up in Maryland.  With my flight out to Indian Wells booked for 7am, the morning of the 28th of December (out of Orlando), the plan was to stay up north thru Christmas Day and fly back to Orlando that evening, leaving a full 2 days to tie up all loose ends before shipping off for the 3-week shoot.  Easy, right?  Well, as you can expect, things didn’t go as planned.  I somehow managed to have three flights cancelled in the span of 24 hours leaving me stranded in Maryland for another two days.  With the weather continually deteriorating, I would be lucky to get out on the 27th.  Now, 99.9% of the time I would welcome these unexpected extra days with the fam.  However, a 7am flight scheduled to leave Orlando on the 28th was looming and there is just simply a ton o’ stuff to accomplish before uprooting yourself for the better part of a month.  There’s enough stress during the holidays.  This was one kind I had no interest in taking on. 

Luckily, the flight I was eventually booked on after the three cancellations was able to get out of Maryland on the 27th.  I got back home late that afternoon, took stock of the situation and did what was necessary; changed the flight from 7am to 7pm for the next day.  Getting two days of stuff done in a couple hours just wasn’t going to happen.  So, all things considered, I really didn’t end up too bad.  I made it to Indian Wells.  Delayed slightly, but still made it on the target date.  Of course, I’d like to say that my ordeal was the only travel snag that our Production Management staff would have to deal with.  That would surely not be the case. 

Multiple members of the production team hit some minor travel snags on the way (delayed flights coming from the Northeast, missed connections, etc.), but none of great consequence.  One of the more extended delays was experienced by our Managing Director, Paul Schlegel.  He was stranded in snow-swamped Syracuse, New York for five days…with his in-laws.  Without access to wireless internet (apparently the in-laws didn’t have it), he spent each day at the library so he could field emails as the pre-shoot preparations commenced in California.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I called him upon my on-site arrival, only to get an immediate email stating, “Can’t talk now.  In a library.  Call you later.” 

Even Robbie (aka: “Shank”) experienced some travel problems himself as can be seen in a GolfChannel.com exclusive.  Due to an “equipment problem”, “Shank” got delayed over two hours leaving South Carolina, which left him sprinting to the gate to make his connection to Palm Springs, only to find out that his connecting flight was also delayed because of another “equipment problem”.  The plane needed to be switched out with another (smaller) plane in order to get the majority of people out of Phoenix and into Palm Springs.  This was the flight that Kent was supposed to be on. 

When we got word that Kent didn’t make the flight, we had to figure out in a matter of minutes a new plan for how Show 1 would begin.  The original plan was to have two groups of guys arrive at the airport, get their number to the safe, get to Indian Wells, then have John arrive last with the final number to the combination.  With Kent now having to arrive by himself, we needed to adjust the day’s production schedule to not only accommodate his now late, lone arrival, but figure out how this would fit into the whole “safe opening” section of the arrivals.  So, there were two options.  He could be re-booked on a flight which wouldn’t get in until later that evening, or we could rent a car service to drive him from Phoenix to Indian Wells which would get him in just about the same time.  So we made our decision.  As you saw in tonight’s episode, we got him a car service and he was escorted to Indian Wells (along with our PR guy Jeremy Friedman, who was also “defacto-booted” from the flight).  So, why did we decide on that?  Story and entertainment value.  If we put Kent on a plane, we now lose an ongoing thread (that we can document for TV) for the eventual conclusion to the “what’s in the safe” story.  Of course, we got lucky that Kent was one of the guys we sent a FlipCam to before the shoot.  We got lucky that Jeremy is such a good sport and agreed without hesitation to shoot pieces of the 4-hour drive with Kent.  Heck, we got lucky that having John arrive without a number to the safe combination made the arrivals section that much more interesting. 

Ok, so maybe in a way we did fabricate this made-for-TV moment just for the sole reason of entertainment.  But that’s what really happened.  And honestly, with all the travel tribulations a number of us had to endure just to make it to the shoot, I feel like this “story” represented the true “reality” of what this lead-in to Big Break Indian Wells was truly all about.  Holiday travel sucks.

After Further Review: Whan deserves major credit

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 11:18 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Mike Whan's really, really good idea ...

If LPGA commissioner Mike Whan hasn’t earned a gold star yet for creating the Race to the CME Globe four years ago, he deserves one now. The race’s finish at the CME Group Tour Championship has become a spectacular fireworks show. Stacy Lewis said it best on Saturday. She said the pressure the top players feel at CME is the “worst” those players feel all year, and by that she meant the “most intense,” the kind that makes for the best weeks.

You can argue there’s more pressure on the top women at the CME than there is in a major. The Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring, the Rolex world No. 1 ranking and the money-winning title all seem to come down to this final week, when there’s also the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot up for grabs. You have to think the weight of all that might have had something to do with Lexi Thompson missing that 2-footer at Sunday’s end. She came away with the Vare Trophy and $1 million jackpot as nice consolation prizes. We all came away thrilled by Ariya Jutanugarn’s birdie-birdie finish amid the gut-wrenching drama. - Randall Mell


On Austin Cook's improbable winner's journey ...

Despite becoming a Monday qualifying sensation on the PGA Tour in 2015, Austin Cook still had to head to Web.com Tour Q-School that winter. There he collapsed over his final four holes to blow a chance at full status, and one year later the cancellation of the Web.com Tour Championship because of Hurricane Matthew left him $425 short of a PGA Tour card.

But Cook put to rest all of his recent near-misses with four days of nearly flawless golf at Sea Island. Now he’s headed to Augusta National in April and exempt through 2020, afforded ample time to look back at how tough breaks in the past helped to shape his unique journey to the winner’s circle. - Will Gray

On what Cook's win says about PGA Tour depth ...

Players talk regularly about the depth of talent on the PGA Tour, claiming that anyone in a particular field can come away with a trophy on any given week.

To prove the point, Austin Cook, No. 306 in the Official World Golf Ranking, rolled over the field at the RSM Classic with rounds of 66-62-66-67 for a four-stroke victory. Before Sunday at Sea Island Resort, Cook’s only triumph in a professional event was at a mini-tour winter series tournament. That payday was $5,000.

His victory at the RSM Classic was worth considerably more and proved, yet again, the depth of the modern game. - Rex Hoggard

Snedeker feels close to 100 percent after RSM week

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:09 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Even if the result – a tie for 29th place – wasn't exactly what Brandt Snedeker is accustomed to, given his journey back from injury he’ll consider his final regular-season start of 2017 a success.

Snedeker had been sidelined with a sternum injury since June and overhauled his swing with the help of his coach John Tillery in an attempt to alleviate future injury. Needless to say, his expectations at the RSM Classic were low.

After starting the week with back-to-back rounds of 67 to move into contention, Snedeker wasn’t as sharp on the weekend, but he was still pleased with his week.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


“It was great to see how my swing held up and the golf course toughen up today and the changes we made. Inevitably you kind of revert back to what’s comfortable and natural,” he said. “But now my body feels good. I was shocked. I thought I’d be close to 75 percent this week and felt closer to 100 [percent]. Hopefully it continues to stay that way.”

Snedeker said he has a busy schedule planned for early next season on the West Coast and also plans to play next month’s QBE Shootout.

“Every time I’ve come back from injury I’ve been kind of like, well I’m close but not quite there,” said Snedeker, who added that he was pain-free for the entire week. “This is the first time I’ve come back and been like it’s there.”

Cook hopes RSM win starts a ROY campaign

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook cruised to his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the RSM Classic, a nearly flawless performance that included just two bogeys for the week and a 21-under total.

Earlier in the week, Cook’s caddie Kip Henley said Cook was playing the most effortless golf he’d ever witnessed. But as is so often the case, it can be tough to tell what is really going on inside a player's mind.

“A lot of stuff going on, especially up here,” Cook laughed pointing at his head. “A little tenseness. This week my ball-striking was great, and for the most part my putting was great as well. All around my game was just incredible this week.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Following a bogey at the second hole on Sunday that cut his lead to two shots, the rookie responded with a birdie at the seventh hole and added three more over his final four holes to beat J.J. Spaun by four strokes.

It was a timely victory for a player who has set rather lofty goals for himself.

“My goal coming into the year was to win Rookie of the Year and I’ve gotten off to a good start. Now my goal is to make a long deep run into the FedExCup playoffs,” he said.

Cook became the second consecutive rookie winner of the RSM Classic following Mac Hughes’ victory last year.

Rookie Cook cruises to first title, Masters invite

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 9:57 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook was chased by proven PGA Tour winners all day at the RSM Classic.

Now the Arkansas player is one of them.

The PGA Tour rookie held off veterans Brian Gay, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman on Sunday at the chilly, windy Sea Island Club's Seaside Course.

Cook closed with a 3-under 67 for a four-stroke victory over J.J. Spaun. The victory in the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year gave Cook a spot in the Masters next year.

''It was definitely exciting ... real brutal with the wind,'' Cook said. ''I got off to a slow start but I was able to keep my head level and know there was a lot of golf to be played. With the wind and those conditions, a lot could happen.''

Cook birdied three of his last four holes after the three-shot lead he began the day with slipped to one over Spaun. Cook made a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to finish at 21-under 261.

Spaun shot a 66.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Gay, the oldest contender of the week at 45, eagled the par-4 18th hole from 161 yards with a 9-iron to break out of a five-way tie for third and finish at 16 under. He shot 68.

Kirk (71) and Kisner (68), past winners of the tournament, St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman (65) and Andrew Landry (67) tied for fourth at 14 under.

Cook, the 26-year-old from Little Rock, earned $1,116,000 and improved to third on the FedEx Cup points list.

It's the second year in a row that a rookie won the RSM Classic. Mac Hughes survived a five-way playoff to capture the title last year in a Monday finish.

Spaun, a stocky former University of San Diego player, made the biggest move of the day and twice cut Cook's lead to one shot - the last time on an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-4 16th.

However, Spaun bogeyed No. 17 when he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker, and Cook birdied No. 15 with a 4-footer and No. 17 with a 15-footer to seal the victory.

Spaun's birdie at No. 16 could have put him into a tie for the lead but he missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on the previous hole.

''That (Spaun's miss at No. 15) was big,'' said Cook, who said he's an obsessive leaderboard-watcher and knew exactly when Spaun had come within a shot.

Cook, who has Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley, carrying his bag, never slipped after a bogey at the second hole, just his second of the week. He missed only two fairways in the final round and made par after four of his five missed greens. He led the field in scrambling, converting 11 of 12 pars after missing greens, and tied for fourth by hitting 48 of 56 fairways.

''With Kip on the bag, he was able to keep me in the moment and keep me pressing instead of playing conservative,'' Cook said. ''There was a lot of stuff going on, mostly up here (tapping his head). My ball-striking was great and for the most part, my putting was great. Holding the nerves down, playing a good round in these conditions. ... I'm so happy.''