Big Break Mexico Season Preview Producer Blog

By Big Break ProducerMay 2, 2013, 1:30 am

10 years is a long time.  Well, maybe not in the grand scheme of the cosmos and the creation of everything around us; but in the lifetime of the average human being, 10 years is a pretty significant chunk o’ time.  If you really think about it, we measure our phases of life in 10 year increments.  Whether it be physical age or periods of music, a decade is how we create order in a frequently orderless existence.  Even the word “decade” holds a certain type of weight.  I mean…it sounds like if a decade fell on you, ya might be sore for a few days.  And you know what, when you look back at the past decade of your own life, it almost does feel like something large and cumbersome has glanced off the side of your head. 

Welcome, friends, to the 1st installation of my incoherent thoughts and ramblings as it concerns the TV series you know and love, Big Break.  For all the newbies of the Producer Blog section of the website, my name is Brendan Havens and I’m the Senior Producer for Big Break Mexico and have been working with Big Break in some form or fashion since the very 1st season…10 years ago.

Believe it or not, Big Break has now been on the air for 10 years.  I know!  I couldn’t believe it either.  The 1st season premiered on October 6, 2003 and was one of the 1st of its kind.  Granted, the series followed the worldwide successes of “The Real World”, “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”, but Big Break was really the 1st reality competition program that centered itself around a single sport.  Upon hearing of this show concept while working as a freelance production assistant for Golf Central, I had to find a way to work on it.  So, I left Golf Central to log the tapes that came back from the very 1st Big Break series shoot.  Yup.  Just some single, 24-year-old kid sitting with a tape machine and a computer, typing into a document what’s happening on the screen in front of me.  Who woulda thunk it.  10 years later, I’m now just some married, 34-year-old dude leading the charge in all facets of the Big Break series production.  A whole lot can change in 10 years.  Just take a look at the 1st season of Big Break on golfchannel.com and compare what that looks like to how it looks now.  I mean…yikes.  It’s like looking back at your high school yearbook.  You ever do that?  I can guarantee you said to yourself, “how did I EVER think that looked good?”  Well, let me tell ya.  I ask the same question when looking back at those early season episodes.

So, as we inch closer and closer to the premiere of the 19th season of Big Break, how is it that each successive season has proven to be as entertaining as that 1st season was when it was so fresh and new?  Well, it’s because each season we keep finding a way to make the same ol’ series feel fresh and new.  Sure, it’s still the same basic foundation that the 1st season was built upon: Aspiring professional golfers trying to find a way to live together while competing in extremely unique/high pressure golf challenges.  However, we make a concerted effort every season to have every season feel like a totally new series.  From new and improved challenges, to new cast member dynamics, to big time format changes…which is what leads me to Big Break Mexico.

In my decade long experience with the Big Break, I can safely say that this season is vastly different from any other than I’ve been personally involved with.  Now, I realize this won’t be the first time we’ve done teams, but with these teams of 4 (2 men, 2 women), this will be the first time we’ve structured the team format this way.  On top of this, there’s also some pretty significant twists and turns to come that I’m not at liberty to divulge at this very moment, but trust me…they’re pretty twist-a-rific.

Outside of the twists and turns you’ve all come to expect with the Big Break, what I really love about this season is the dynamics that teams inherently bring.  You see it with the Ryder Cup every two years.  Competitive people are always that much more competitive when they’re in a team environment.  The ecstasy of winning and the agony of defeat are that much more amplified and the reactions are that much louder because when you have to rely on others to determine your level of success, things can get really tense, really quick.  As the great Alvin Lee of the band 10 Years After once wrote, “You got to help me, now.  I can't do it all by myself.  You know if you don't help me, darling, I'll have to find myself somebody else.”  Seems to be quite fitting as we enter this team format for the 10th year of Big Break.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)