September 3rd 2009 - A New Beginning

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerJune 1, 2010, 6:09 pm

As I shuffle out of the hotel lobby in the early hours of a crisp autumn morning in Albany, the anticipation of the day’s events have me feeling anxious, intrigued and most importantly, warm. My heavily-thinned Florida blood isn’t nearly as tolerant to chilly temps as it used to be during my formative years in Connecticut. These 40-degree temp and thick morning fog have a much heavier effect on me these days. The “Meet the Pros” party that I attended last night has robbed me of some rest and has necessitated a handful of Advil, but nevertheless, this day will be our first foray into the casting process of Big Break Sandals Resorts. The cool, damp morn in New York’s state capital will also mark the first time I’ll be making an appearance at a Duramed FUTURES TOUR event in over two years. Being a longtime producer of Big Break, along with the “Game On” series with Ashley Prange, I’ve made a lot of friends out on that tour. So, it’s fully understandable that the introduction of Advil to my morning routine was most definitely an inevitable one.

At this stage of the pre-production process, Big Break Sandals Resorts is still in its infancy. Only a few challenge concepts have been conjured up. I have yet to see, in person, where we’ll be shooting the series and am in the midst of pre-production for another show: Destination Golf Hawaii. All that aside though, this September morn marks what I’ve always considered to be the most important part of the Big Break pre-production process: Casting. No matter what crazy challenges we can dream up or exotic locales we can invade, the cast can make or break an entire series.

Upon arriving at the Capital Hills Golf Course shortly after 7:30 a.m., my curiosity/paranoia about how the day’s events will unfold begins to set in. How many girls will show up to audition? Will we end the day with at least a couple possible candidates? It’s a familiar feeling, as I’ve asked myself these questions before every open audition call at a FUTURES TOUR event since the first round of casting for Big Break V (we came out of that one with Ashley Prange, Jeanne Cho, Christina Tucker, Becky Lucidi and Katie Ruhe).  Of course, the overriding majority of the time, we end up with a number of solid possibilities, but it still doesn’t stop me from asking these all too familiar questions. And like I stated earlier, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been out to the FUTURES TOUR. Will any of these new faces be interested in what the Big Break has to offer? I know, very neurotic, but hey, this is how my thought process works.

My initial nervousness begins to subside around 7:45 a.m. when our sign-in table begins to become flooded with a number of interested applicants who showed up early just to make sure they got an audition time. An excellent start to what would amount to be one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had for an open audition. 

Over the course of the next eight hours, we would audition 70 members of the FUTURES TOUR with around a third of them getting immediate consideration to be part of the next Big Break. To put this in perspective, we usually get around 5-10 people per audition that are considered. In just one audition, we could have filled the next two “ladies only” Big Break casts (Carling Coffing, Ryann O’Toole, Lili Alvarez, Seema Sadekar and Stacey Bieber were selected from this audition). This first audition site really was the beginning of this series. It set the tone for what I consider to be one of the best casts we’ve ever assembled and is one of the many reasons why I’m extremely excited about this series.

My fellow producers (Jon Painter and Chris Graham) and I have taken it upon ourselves to give you a bit of a different perspective on Big Break for this season. This new approach will not only showcase these 11 intriguing personalities to the fullest, but a major goal of ours is to really get you to feel what it was like for these ladies to participate in this one-of-a-kind competition. From the breathtaking tropical surroundings to the extreme intensity of the Elimination Challenge, we’ve covered the action and the drama like no other Big Break.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).