Destiny Unbound

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerAugust 3, 2010, 12:12 am

With the final four now set, I would be remiss to not delve into the notion of deservedness (or lack thereof) for the members of this newly exclusive sorority. Lili Alvarez, Taryn Durham, Sara Brown and Carling Coffing have all taken decidedly different routes to arrive at this destination, but should they all be here? Really the only definitive answer would be that “they are the final four, so it doesn’t really matter.” But that’s no fun. In this TV/entertainment/sports-obsessed world we currently inhabit, every moment of every TV series/celebrity-sighting/free-agent-signing must be up for discussion/debate. So, instead of taking the high road around all this madness, I’ll be departing that increasingly less traveled route and drive directly into that irresistible traffic jam of obsessive analysis.

Let’s begin with Carling Coffing, our first entrant to the final four. One would be hard-pressed to argue that she doesn’t deserve to be playing for a spot in the semifinals. From the outset, she’s proven herself to be one of the most confident/outspoken players in the group and has “played the game” of the Big Break as well as anyone thus far. Of course, playing the “game” means more than just hitting golf shots. Dare I say that nobody has played the psychological angle (purposely or not) more so than Carling? Her treatment of the “Save/Send” card alone is evidence enough. It remains to be seen, though whether her strategy to save Taryn will work out in her favor over the course of the final episodes. Speaking of Taryn, she may be the most controversial participant in the final four.

At face value, Taryn is by far the most undeserving member of this foursome. She made it into the final four by being “saved,” eked her way through a number of Elimination Challenges, and has the least amount of professional experience of the remaining four. However, one thing not readily accounted for with Taryn, especially when taking in her sweet southern demeanor, is her fierce, tenacious nature. Her will to win rivals, if not exceeds any of her fellow competitors. I mean, it takes a special kind of competitor to take a dreaded “snowman” during an Elimination Challenge (which includes a whiff) and come right back, nearly hole out for eagle and in doing so, eliminate Ryann, one of the strongest competitors on the series.  (We’ll discuss the whole Ryann-not-in-the-finale debate in a few weeks.)

This leaves us with Sara and Lili rounding out the Big Break pledge class of 2010. As with Carling, there really isn’t much debate as to their place in the series thus far. Sara has been on her competitors’ radar screens since the start. Only this week has Sara been in any sort of danger of elimination. Carling’s thought of “sending” Sara with the “Save/Send” card had everything to do with performance, not personal differences (see: “bench dispute” two weeks ago).

Lili hasn’t had quite as smooth a ride as Sara to this point, but along the way, she may have proved herself to be one of the best pressure players still in the game. She’s survived 3 Elimination Challenges, all of them without much incident (except for an errant tee ball last week which made that much more interesting than it should have). As evidenced in this week’s episode, if Lili can stay in the present, she’ll be one of the toughest to beat.

So the question still remains: Is this final four deserving? To answer this, I will use the example of the most well-known “Final Four” in all the land: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Rarely ever do you see a Final Four that is made up of the four best teams in the country. You normally see a few of the frontrunners with another team that made a bit of a surprise run through the tourney. Sure, the better teams are always given the advantage through seeding and matchups, but one bad game can instantly mean elimination. It’s the nature of the tournament and one of the reasons why it’s so great.

Now, take the format of Big Break into account. The nature of the competition has consistently lent itself to some incredibly unexpected outcomes over the past 13 seasons. Just the sheer nature of how the competition is set up makes pretty much anything possible. Sure there are twists and turns and a certain subjectivity that comes with the “reality” component of the competition, but ultimately it has always come down to performance. One bad week and you’re eliminated.

So, do Carling, Taryn, Sara and Lili deserve to make up the final four? Of course they do, every single one of them. Through all the challenges, the drama and the saving/sending (ok, so the “send” option never was taken advantage of), they’ve managed to navigate themselves thru the pitfalls of this incredibly grueling competition, and if that’s not deserving enough, then I don’t know what is.
Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Getty Images

Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.