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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