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.
 
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
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  • Contestant Bios
  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

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    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


    Playing with the pros

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    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


    President at the Presidents Cup


    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

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    Cart on the green


    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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    Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

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    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

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    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

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     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

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    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

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    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

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    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

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    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

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    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

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