Battle for the Big Break Finale

By May 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
The Big Break V - HawaiiWith The Big Break V: Hawaii down to its final two shows, the remaining three contestants were well aware of how close they were to reaching the finals.
 
It felt good. It felt real good, said Ashley Prange on her being one show away from the final twosome. Confident. I felt very confident going into the day.
 
The pressure, you know, your going for an immunity, said Julie Wells. I was excited about it for sure.
 
Co-hosts Stephanie Sparks and Vince Cellini outlined the final two-part Immunity Challenge for the ladies: hitting tee shots for both distance and accuracy. Each player would hit four drives taking the total distance of each drive and subtracting how far it lands outside a narrow grid painted down the middle of the fairway. The two players with the higher average after the four drives would then move on to a putting challenge. The winner of that would lock down a spot in the final show.
 
The Big Break V
With the Turtle Bay Resort in the background, Ashley Prange prepares to putt in the Immunity Challenge.
Even though they are longer than I am, I know Im more accurate and consistent than they are, said Wells on her chances.
 
Those chances were quickly dashed, however, as she blew her first drive way right of the target. Despite having three remaining shots, the damage was already done.
 
Bottom line is I made one of my worst swings of the competition at the extreme wrong time, summed up Wells.
 
Jeanne Cho and Prange followed and advanced to the second stage of the Immunity Challenge, easily outdistancing Wells, who now was one half of the Elimination Challenge.
 
In part two of the Immunity Challenge, Cho and Prange readied for a putting skills test that would determine which one would reach The Big Break V finals ' and also who would be joining Wells in the elimination round.
 
I thought it was a great challenge for Ashley and I to gain immunity in, because we are both pretty good putters and we can handle the pressure. I thought it would be interesting and it was going to be a tight match, said Cho about the match up.
 
Both players would hit four putts from four different spots on the green and the player with the lowest total strokes would advance.
 
The two players each had two-putted from the first three locations and moved the final spot with Cho hitting first. Her putt drifted toward the end but she was able to easily tap in for a 2. Prange, meanwhile, had got a good look at the line.
 
That was probably the putt that gave me the best read, recalled Prange. I got a very good read off her putt.
 
Putting from some 40 feet away, Pranges effort tracked all the way to the hole ' but stopped an inch short. It now became a sudden-death playoff for the final immunity!
 
Facing a 10-footer, they each would take turns until one of the two could hole the putt.
 
Cho fired first and watched in disappointment as her putt hit the back of the cup only to then spin out. Unfortunately for Prange she couldnt capitalize as they now moved to the second pair of putts. Again, neither player found the bottom of the cup. And so was the case after their third efforts. After a Cho miss on her fourth attempt, Prange finally seized the moment and rolled home the winner.
 
That was tough. I didnt want to go through that again, said Prange afterwards.
 
And so it was down to Cho and Wells to see who would be joining Prange in The Big Break V final match.
 
In the Elimination Challenge, Wells and Cho would play three holes using the modified Stableford scoring system ' 1 point for a par, 3 for birdie and 5 for an eagle. Conversely, 1 point would be deducted for a bogey and 3 pointes deducted for a double bogey or worse.
 
I think we both knew what was on the line, you know this was for the final or we go home. So it added a little more pressure than the other days, said Cho. I definitely upped my intensity a little bit, I wanted it so bad.
 
On the first hole, Wells caught an unfortunate break as her tee shot found a divot just off the fairway. Lacking enough spin on her approach her ball hit the putting surface but rolled through the green. Her subsequent chip traveled well past the pin and then she couldnt convert the par saving putt. Bogey and minus-1 points. Cho on the other hand found the fairway and stuck her approach within 5 feet of the cup. Her birdie effort lipped out and she settled for a par and 1 point.
 
At the second hole, both players hit poor approaches to the green, with Wells nearly whiffing her shot. But she rebounded nicely by hitting a sand wedge to 5 feet to save par. Cho answered with a fantastic shot of her own, her pitch shot checking up to within a foot of the cup. Wells again couldnt convert and settled for bogey and another minus-1. Cho tapped in her second par to gain a point. After two holes, Cho stood at plus-2 and Wells at minus-2, a four point margin heading into the last hole.
 
The Big Break V
Julie Wells became the second to last lady to be eliminated from the Big Break V: Hawaii.
Time was running out on Wells.
 
Each found the fairway off the tee on the par-5 third hole, but both players had to lay up with their second shot due to strong Hawaiian winds. Wells third shot was right on line but the wind held it up just a bit and it stopped 12 feet short of the hole. She would have to make it for birdie and hope for a disaster from Cho. That was not in the cards, however, as Cho hit the green with her approach and then took any drama out of the situation by ramming in her long birdie try to lock up the last spot in the finals against Prange.
 
Wells Hawaiian dream had now officially ended.
 
I wouldve wanted very badly to be in the last two. Mentally I wanted it so bad that my heart ached for it, said the departing Wells. These tears arent tears of sadness, Im just damn proud of myself because I cant believe I made it this far.
 
As for next weeks final pairing, both ladies seemed focused.
 
When its game time its business, said Prange. I expect a dog fight. We didnt come here to play games. We came here to win.
 
I really want to win this, it would mean the world to me, countered Cho. Its going to be a mental battle.
 
The Big Break V: Hawaii airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break V: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.