Big Break Ireland Producer Blog: It's All About the Golf

By Constantin Preda, Big Break ProducerSeptember 28, 2011, 2:00 am


Talk about extremes. The first time I had the pleasure of field and post producing for Big Break, it was in the Dominican Republic.  Every single day on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola was defined by heat, humidity, cobalt blue and green oceans, plenty of rain, and some of the most intense golf challenges I’d seen on Big Break to date. I didn’t think it could get more surprising. That was until I landed on the Emerald Isle and found myself in the complete opposite of environments. Freezing cold temperatures, gusts of wind that reached up to 50-miles an hour, farm lands dappled with sheep as far as the eye could see, and castles dating as far back as the 12th century – I had never felt or seen anything like it and I was excited to be there.

My first assignment was to meet up with a few of our competitors who had flown in from different parts of the U.S.: Whitney, a charming golfer from South Carolina who may have had been perceived as naïve by some of the other competitors - but I think they confused kindness with weakness. Whitney is not weak and that showed in her fire during her elimination challenge.  Even though she had been eliminated in episode one by Bennett, I think we all still saw her athleticism and I know there will be more great golf moments from her in years to come. It was sad to see her go.

Speaking of Bennett, I could tell he automatically saw himself as a leader. While the others may have seen him as somewhat of a black sheep, I think his strategy is to not get too close to the others, because they had all been told there would be only one winner of Big Break Ireland. Bennett, an Orlando, Florida resident, is laser-focused on that win. Hopefully, he’ll be able to cut loose a little. Only time on the show will tell.

And then there is the complete opposite of Bennett: Mark Murphy. Mark is originally from Waterville, Kerry, Ireland and now a resident of my favorite city in the world, “Nawlins”, Louisiana. The golfer’s got jokes and not only did he keep spirits light in show one, but he may have been a key ingredient to his team’s win. Yeah, things didn’t quite pan out in show two for Team Liffey, but something tells me Mark’s ‘laissez les bon temps rouler’ attitude may be an asset to him. And he pretty much made me, and the crew, laugh every day – even while enduring the wind chills and icy rain. I still even laugh while in the edit bay as my editor and I put together some of his more light-hearted moments.

I guess what I’m attempting to point out is that the personalities on Big Break Ireland are as colorful, enigmatic, and lush as Ireland itself. It could be Andy’s intensity on the course – most likely from years spent playing professionally – to his sense of humor when he chunks it out of the bunker. Or the often reserved and quiet Nina who absolutely proved her fearlessness and ability by speaking out in breakfast against Bennett and then backing her bark up with her bite by winning her match against Mallory. Or Matt, the rugged, tough Scottsdale, Arizona resident originally from Mulanje, Malawi, Africa who cuts loose with Mark as the two of them play great golf and goof around.

However, more important than the personalities of Big Break Ireland’s competitors is their ability to play great golf. Kelly going toe-to-toe with Nicole to keep her match square, Matt’s monster 25-ft putt to win his match and surprise Bennett, or Julien’s putt that beat Mark and effectively turned the tide toward Team Straffan…absolutely amazing. As Mallory stated, “We thought we had it in the bag…” but she thought too soon and the win was ripped from Team Liffey forcing Team Captain Mallory to take not one, but two of her own teammates into the Elimination Challenge.

That’s when I saw the friendliness between the girls of Team Liffey all but disappear. Kelly was annoyed that Mallory selected her. She felt that it showed how scared Mallory may have been to compete against a guy. Annie, who was on the Big Break to redeem her reputation as the golfer “busted” for supposedly cheating in her last tournament at Notre Dame – resulting in a disqualification – wanted to come out of the elimination challenge unscathed. Annie can golf. She essentially pulled a prank in her last college tournament in which she reported her genuine scores on her score card, but joked with a rep from – reporting a birdie on each hole – and the rules officials didn’t find the prank sportsman like. However, we’ve all done something ridiculous in college and only in hindsight do we see the folly of our ways.

After Mallory saves herself from elimination by successfully putting two balls on the green of the 18th hole at the Palmer Smurfit Course, Kelly and Annie are left to square off, head to head, to see who will stay and who will be eliminated.

It all came down to the final location in which Annie plops her ball in the water. It was a tough shot and as Kelly put it, she “wished she could have told [Annie] to not hit that shot” the way she had, but it’s “cutthroat.” In the elimination challenge, the team aspect of the competition goes out the window and it becomes every golfer for herself. In the end, Kelly beats Annie and, in tears, Annie is eliminated. But don’t write Annie off any time soon. She’s an athlete, she made it to show two, and she is playing a full schedule on the LPGA Futures Tour in 2011. Expect more from her and much more from Big Break Ireland in the next show aptly titled “The Fighting Irish”. 

Tune in next week... Tuesday night, 9PM Eastern.

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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.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.