Americans Back in the Fold

By December 7, 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.
 
One by one they have watched as their opponents and teammates have been eliminated from the show, and now the dream of winning the Big Break IV is down to the final four ' T.J. Valentine and Paul Holtby of Team USA and Thomas Blankvoort and Guy Woodman of Team Europe.
 
Big Break IV
Guy Woodman tries to escape from trouble during the Europeans match against the Americans.
But before the show set teammates against each other in order to determine the finale, the two teams squared off in a semi-friendly match with some valuable prizes for the winners. Another two-year lease on a Ford Explorer and all expenses paid trip back to Scotland were up for grabs.
 
For the trip to Scotland, the two teams would play three holes of match play using the alternate shot format. On the fourth hole, Valentine would face Blankvoort and Holtby would play Woodman in separate, one-hole singles matches. The team with the most points after four holes would win the return vacation trip to Scotland.
 
I thought it was a way of saying to the four guys who have gotten this far, well done, congratulations, you guys can win some great prizes. Then we get back to work, said Blankvoort on the Prize Challenge Rounds.
 
The Americans looked as if they were getting off to a good start as Holtby found the fairway off the tee while Team Europe knocked it into the woods. From the edge of the trees, Blankvoort hit his approach into a greenside bunker. Advantage USA. Valentine, however, chunked his approach, causing the USA to ultimately reach the green in three. The Euros blasted out of the bunker and two-putted while the USA also two-putted leaving the match all-square thru 1 at a half point apiece.
 
After both teams failed to reach the green in regulation on the second hole, Team Europe hit a clutch chip to within inches of the hole and the Americans conceded their par. Facing a touch pitch shot from above the green, Valentine blew his shot well past the hole and then watched as Holtby was unable to make the comebacker to keep the match all square. Team Europe 1 - Team USA .
 
Much like on the first hole, Team USA again found itself in good position off the tee on the third hole as Woodmans shot for Team Europe found a nasty lie in the thick round down the left side of the fairway. But unfortunately just like the first hole, Valentine again badly chunked his approach.
 
Biggest cardinal sin in golf: you let something bother you that happened in the past bother you in the present, said Valentine on his struggles.
 
From the nasty stuff, Blankvoort was at least able to get his ball back in play but their subsequent approach flew the green. Blankvoort came right back with a great chip that saved bogey but then had to wait to see if the Americans could scramble to make par. Valentines putt to square the match lipped out, leaving the USA in a tough position heading to the one-hole singles match. Team Europe 2 ' Team USA 1.
 
Big Break IV
T.J. Valentine drops his head after one of the many disappointing shots he hit during episode 11.
Needing to sweep both singles matches to win the Scottish vacation, Valentine once more put his team behind the eight ball. His tee shot went into the right rough and then hit his second into the left rough. Meanwhile, his opponent Blankvoort found the green and had a chance at birdie. No matter that Holtby had beat Woodman in his match to even the score momentarily; Valentine conceded the putt to Blankvoort to give the Europeans the win.
 
I definitely think T.J. did the right and the professional thing by conceding the match to him, said Holtby on the conclusion of the days competition. Congratulations to the Europeans.
 
The Euros now had a chance at the Ford Explorer two-year lease if they could manage to hit an approach shot from 100-yards out into a 6-foot circle painted around the flagstick. Alas, with the wind up at Carnoustie neither player was able to make it happen.
 
That was fun, but I guess we are down to the nitty gritty now, said Woodman about the days events and his upcoming match with Blankvoort. It is going to be a tough challenge ahead of me to have to face Thomas with a chance to get into the final.
 
On the other side of the coin, teammates Valentine and Holtby now faced the proposition of battling one another in the other semifinal.
 
Its going to be good, hard competitive golf and thats what time it is, said Holtby on his upcoming match with friend Valentine.

The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break IV: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
  • Big Break IV Photo Gallery
  • Contestant Bios
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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.