Battling On Hallowed Ground

By October 26, 2005, 4:00 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.
 
Dawn broke on another day in Scotland with the remaining players receiving word that a pair of team buses awaited them outside their hotel. Their destination, however, was unknown.
 
We were taking separate teams buses to a secret location, which was quite exciting, remarked Guy Woodman of Team Europe.
 
Ive been in this area quite a few times. We knew the area roughly and knew which side of Scotland we were on, said Warren Bladon as Team Europe tried to figure out where they were headed.
 
Big Break IV
The U.S. squad had a nice photo op atop the Swilican Bridge, but would the team stay intact throughout episode 6?
Not long after boarding the buses, however, signs along the roadside gave away the secret and the players knew they were in for quite a treat.
 
Welcome to a very, very special show, it is our privilege to be here. And for the eight of you remaining in this stage of the competition, someday you will tell your children and your grandchildren you competed at the Old Course in St. Andrews, said Vince Cellini, who was on hand along with co-host Stephanie Sparks to welcome the teams. Its absolutely golfs hallowed ground, the birthplace of the sport. By some estimates, golf in some way, shape or form has been played here for upwards of 800 years. Today youll walk in the footsteps of the great champions that have played here.
 
And with that the Mulligan Challenge got underway as each player was given one attempt to see who could get the ball closest to hole from the infamous Valley of Sin on the 18th hole.
 
One by one from about 125-feet away, they tried to hit the uphill putt somewhere in the vicinity of the flagstick. After watching several come up well short and a few run past the hole, Europes Marty Wilde Jr. was able to dial in on the speed and keep his attempt somewhat on line. His resulting 8 feet from the hole was ultimately good enough for the victory.
 
Whenever you win the Mulligan Challenge like that, its a good start for the day and it makes it feel like you are going to win you know? said Wilde Jr. after his teams win.
 
Now it was on to the Immunity Challenge and the players again visited one of St. Andrews most recognizable spots on the course ' the road bunker just off the 17th green.
 
Each team was split in two groups with each player playing his own ball from the bunker. The team with the fewest total strokes would be exempt from having to fight it out in the Elimination Challenge.
 
And once again the Americans got themselves into trouble quickly when T.J. Valentine blasted his ball out of the bunker and over the green, eventually coming to rest on the dirt path that ran along the backside of the green. He did, however, hit a delicate recovery shot that gave him a chance to get down in three.
 
Theres not one person, not one golf professional in this world ' where that pin was and where his ball was ' that would not take that every single time, concluded U.S. team captain Paul Holtby on Valentines chip shot.
 
The great recovery shot was made meaningless though, as Valentine could not knock down the putt which left him with a four on the hole. Valentines partner, Tommy Gainey also missed a short putt giving the Americans a total of seven after Rd. 1. Team Europe, missing two makeable putts of their own, both made 3s and held a one stroke lead with the final set of twosomes yet to play.
 
Europes Wilde Jr. then put even more pressure on the U.S. squad when his bunker shot nestled up to within a couple of feet of the hole, almost assuring himself an easy two. Randall Hunt of the U.S. followed with a lackluster shot out of the bunker but it was his subsequent 30-foot putt which found its mark that suddenly grabbed his teammates attention.
 
The energy he showed when he made that putt - it just kind of gave us new life, commented the USAs Gainey.
 
Again, however, the good feeling was short lived as captain Holtby of the U.S. couldnt coax his short putt into the hole giving the Euros yet another Immunity Challenge victory. The loss hurriedly changed the dynamics for Team USA.
 
I gotta make sure Im safe, said Gainey. I mean, I gotta worry about me. I cant worry about them (teammates) now.
 
For the Elimination Challenge, the task was simple: play the 18th hole at St. Andrews. High score gets eliminated.
 
And for Tommy Gainey, it quickly appeared it was going to be his turn to exit the show. After all four Americans found their tee shots safe and in play, Gainey skulled his approach shot and then watched in shock as it took on a life of its own.
 
After flying over the green, Gaineys ball then flew past the out of bounds markers before skipping off a sidewalk. It then ricocheted off a blue van that was parked outside a clothing store and then somehow miraculously flew back into play, coming to rest in the thick rough just over the green.
 
If that van wasnt parked in that exact spot, it would have gone over the top of a car and into a shop with huge glass windows and smashed the shop, said a bemused Wilde Jr., who had the luxury of just being a spectator.
 
Although catching a break when his ball stayed inbounds, Gainey then proceeded to compound his problems as he whiffed his third shot from the rough. Now laying three, he needed a minor miracle to stay alive and he almost got one as his chip shot banged into the flagstick and almost dropped in for a par-4.
 
Meanwhile, Hunt and Valentine were safely in with pars and captain Holtby looked to have an easy two-putt to seal the deal. From 12 feet away, Holtbys putt for birdie and a pass into the next episode, slid past the hole. Well past the hole. Suddenly, Gainey was brought back into play if Holtby were to miss his par putt.
 
Paul (Holtby) went from the penthouse to the outhouse real quick, said Hunt on the sudden turn of events.
 
Sure enough, Holtbys comebacker for par missed right, setting up a one-hole playoff with Gainey.
 
Big Break IV
Tommy Gainey was the third American to be ousted from the show.
I got this guy right where I want him now. He had a chance to win this thing and he blew it! said Gainey on the momentum change.
 
Due to a modification in the rules though, Gainey needed to beat Holtby by a stroke on the sudden death hole. Holtbys performance during the Mulligan and Immunity Challenges was better than Gainey, thus he was given a stroke on the final hole to be played for the day.
 
Long and left off the tee, Gaineys bump and run came up well shy of the flag leaving him with a 35 footer for birdie. Holtby hit his tee shot straight down the middle and about 30-yards in front of the green. His putt from off the green also came up shy of the hole, but he, however, could two putt for the win while Gainey would have to drain his long birdie putt if he wanted to move on.
 
Gaineys luck finally came to an end when his putt stayed to the right of the hole and Holtby calmly two putted to stave off elimination.
 
For me not to go on and to be with these boys in the battle ' its going to be hard, said Gainey. But you know, I didnt deserve to win.

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.
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.