A Champion is Crowned

By December 20, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe, is The Golf Channels fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked to include a team dynamic. But that in no way means the stakes arent high for each individual, as the contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
After 12 episodes and 10 eliminations, the Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe had narrowed the group down to just two players ' Paul Holtby of the USA and Guy Woodman from Team Europe.
Big Break IV
Guy Woodman and Paul Holtby shake hands before the start of their 18-hole match to determine the winner of The Big Break IV.
The format to determine the winner was 18 holes of match play at the famed Carnoustie Golf Club. And although the format was simple, the stakes were high: entries into two European Tour events, a two-year lease on a Ford Explorer, a Bridgestone playing contract, and a $5,000 gift certificate to Dicks Sporting Goods.
This started out as USA versus Europe - I get nervous just thinking about it - but youre actually playing for your country, acknowledged Holtby on his feelings leading up to the match. Thats an overwhelming responsibility and task.
Certainly nothing Paul does is going to rattle me, countered Woodman. All Im focused on right now is winning.
With that, both players hit their opening tee shots and the match was under way.

At the first, Woodman was short of the green and chipped up to within 4 feet while Holtby found the green but left his birdie putt just shy of the hole. With Holtby in with a conceded par, Woodman knocked down the 4-footer to keep the match all square.
Both players then made routine pars at the second before Holtby drew first blood at the par-4 third. Hitting from the fairway, Holtbys wedge nestled up to a couple a feet from the flagstick to set up birdie.
This was an opportunity to go 1-up and take the other guy out of his game plan, put some heat on him, said Holtby on his short birdie chance. Thats what you gotta do in match play.
Holtby indeed cashed in on his birdie attempt to take the first lead of the day. After matching each other with pars on the following hole, the duo made a mess of things at the par-4 fifth. Woodman, with Holtby in with a bogey, lipped out his par effort and remained 1-down heading to the sixth.
At the par-5 sixth, Woodman seemed to be in control from the fairway until he shanked his second shot in to some nasty rough well short of the green. His recovery shot, however, turned out brilliant, settling some 7 feet from the pin. While Holtby could only manage a two-putt par, Woodman drew even in the match by rolling home his birdie effort.
With a chance to really swing the momentum in his favor and go 1-up, Woodmans almost tap in par at the eighth again lipped out resulting in a halve of the hole.
I was cheesed off at the time but you gotta put it behind you and look to the next hole, said a disappointed Woodman.
Holtby capitalized on Woodmans bad luck by knocking his tee shot at the par-3 eighth to 20 feet and then draining the putt for birdie and to go back to 1-up in the match.
Both players then had birdie attempts at the ninth, but each had their balls catch the lip of the hole and spin out. Holtby remained 1-up as they made the turn.
No movement was made over the next three holes as the two combatants traded bogeys at the 10th, pars at the 11th and then matched birdies at the par-5 12th.
And just like on the only par-3 on the front side, Holtby again hit his tee shot close to give himself a good look at birdie. Woodman, meanwhile, almost holed his tee shot but had to watch as his ball raced to the back and over the green.
That was a bit of a kick in teeth there. To lose the hole after hitting such a good shot (off the tee) was tough, so 2-down with five to play, said Woodman about the situation.
Big Break IV
Paul Holtby poses with a bagpipe player and the trophy after winning the Big Break IV - USA vs. Europe.
Each player made par at the 14th and then watched the other make lengthy, clutch bogey putts at the 15th.
Being 2-up with three to play, Holtbys par-3 luck ran out as he hit into a greenside bunker then blasted out to some 20 feet. Woodman looked as if he could get one back as his tee shot was sitting on the fringe in front of the pin. His lag putt however, was woefully short and his missed his par effort let Holtby off the hook by tying the hole. Holtby now had Woodman in a dormie situation, 2-up with two to play.
After Holtby came up short on his approach at the 17th, he faced an extremely tough chip over a greenside bunker. With Woodman safely on in 2, Holtbys chip was spot on, coming to rest just 2 feet from the hole. Woodmans long lag putt was solid, but he probably needed it to go in to extend the match being as Holtby was just a short putt away from winning the Big Break IV.
But the pressure of the moment had other ideas, as Holtby gagged his putt to lose the hole and give Woodman a second life.
For some reason I always found ways to self-sabotage, I would never allow myself success. And Im just having all these nightmare flashbacks, said Holtby on his choke job at the 17th. The only comforting thought was that I was 1-up with one to go.
With his confidence almost completely shattered and walking up to the next tee in a state of shock, Holtby was somehow able to keep himself in check as he split the fairway at the 18th. Woodman also rifled his drive down the left side to just 128-yards from the pin. Holtbys approach was a bit long, coming to rest in some rough off the back of the green, while Woodmans effort just trickled onto the fringe behind the hole.
Its not easy ' youve got to get up-and-down it to win the game and thats not easy to do, certainly from there, said Woodman on Holtbys chances.
Holtby chipped on but his ball flew by the hole before stopping 12 feet past the pin. Woodmans putt to win the hole outright came up just short setting the stage again for Holtby to win the Big Break IV.
I guess I had memories of how many times and some of the bad experiences Ive had in letting things go when Ive had them right in my grasp, recalled Holtby on the mounting pressure and the demons racing through his head.
With cast and crew watching and the cameras rolling, Holtby stepped up big-time by nailing the 12-footer to win the match at the 18th hole at Carnoustie.
Twenty-five years of playing golf, 15 years as a professional - down to 10 seconds. Its been an incredible journey, said the champion Holtby. This might create some opportunities in life that Ive never had yet.
I was disappointed. The momentum was starting to go my way and I just felt that if I was given one more chance I could have gone on and won, said Woodman after the match. But I was very pleased for Paul. I couldnt wish a nicer guy and a more deserving guy to roll that putt in and win the Big Break IV.

Related Links:
  • Final Match Scorecard
  • Big Break IV Home Page
  • Big Break IV Photo Gallery
  • Contestant Bios
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1