Dream Becomes Reality

By December 9, 2003, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Golf Channel aired the final episode of its original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which a group of scratch golfers vied in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges. Each week one contestant was eliminated.

One by one theyve been eliminated. Each week a dream being dashed, until just two men were left standing. And although there was still one more dream to go unfulfilled, this was finally the moment that one players dream would be realized, earning the Big Break of his golfing career.

So after nine weeks, 10 golfers and countless skills and elimination challenges, things became quite simple between the shows final contestants Anthony Sorentino and Justin Peters. Two players squaring off in an 18-hole match play situation. No more offbeat challenges, just pure golf, mano-a-mano.

It is the same type of feeling as if you are tied for the lead going into the final round of a tournament. You have a chance to win. The ball is in your court. You gotta go out and perform, said Peters about the final show.

It has been a while since I have had that feeling. I love that feeling because it is the position you want to be in. You want to have a chance to win on the last day. Whether it is a four-day tournament or a ten series skills challenge like this. Anything...you always want to be at the end having the chance to come down the stretch and close the deal and be the one on top.

Anthony tees offAs the players stepped up to the tee box on the first hole both did their best to keep their nerves in check, but their tee shots predictably found the right rough.

We both looked a little shaky at the start, obviously, because we knew what was at stake, recalled Peters, whose resulting bogey turned out to be good enough to halve the hole.

Each player halved the second before Peters rolled in a birdie putt on the third to take a 1-up lead.

A remarkable recovery by Peters from the greenside rough on the par-4 fourth kept Sorentino from squaring the match after three holes.

I thought I was going to steal the hole though, said Anthony. He made a great four. So I was bummed out about that. A four or three I thought would get me the hole and he made a clutch four to stay 1-up.

After a couple of pars at next hole, Sorentino finally broke through by rolling in a tricky 20-foot birdie putt at the 7th to even the match and regain some confidence.

I finally started hitting good shots, said Anthony. It was a hard putt and it dropped. So that was cool. It kind of got me rolling a little bit. And less fear of the speed of the greens.

Sorentino then had another chance to keep the momentum going his way but his birdie at the par-3 eighth finished just shy of the hole leaving the match even.

At the par-4 ninth, both players hit beautiful approach shots into the green resulting in a pair of birdies sending the two to the back nine all square.

Both players found trouble off the tee at the 10th, although Peters got the short end of the stick as his ball was nestled down in knee high rough. As he attempted to hit his recovery shot, he heard a popping noise in his wrist and could only fear the worse.

It really scared me. I mean, there were a million thoughts going through my head. As soon as I felt something pop I looked down and it just looked funny to me. I just started getting dizzy. It felt funny, recalled Peters on the situation. Then all of the sudden in my head I am thinking what am I going to do if I broke something in here. I need to make money playing next week to pay my bills. I cant get a job in time to be able to pay my mortgage.

With the help of a makeshift ice pack, Peters overcame the wrist injury to again make an out of this world up and down to keep the match even in what could have been the turning point of the contest.

From there, each player took turns in winning the next two holes with pars, leaving the match even as they strode to the 13th tee. This time however, it was Sorentino who created some trouble for himself by pushing his drive into the forcing him to tee up a second ball. He eventually conceded the hole giving Peters a slim lead once again.

One of the officials said that it hit a tree and bounced in, said Sorentino. I looked for it for a minute but I really didnt want to find it. I mean, my provisional is in the middle of the fairway. I pretty much just thought that hole was his anyway unless I threw a dart.

The players halved the 14th and moved on to the par-5 15th where Peters wondered where the match was headed.

Nobody wanted to take control it seemed like. Every time I felt like I was taking control I gave him one back the next hole. Then he wins a hole and then he would give me one back, Peters noted about the ebb and flow of match play. Its definitely an emotional grind.

Justin and AnthonyA perfect drive and an equally impressive 7-iron left Peters with a 12-foot eagle putt which was eventually conceded as Sorentino struggled to find the green in regulation.

On the par-4 16th each player left their approach shots well short of the pin and halved the hole after both two-putted.

Sorentino was now 2-down with two to play and needed to win the par-3 17th to stay alive. He pulled his tee shot left as Peters safely reach the green. A miracle shot from out of the bunker and under a tree failed to find the cup suddenly giving Peters the match and The Big Break.

Its been quite an experience, an experience I will always remember, said an elated Peters. To be part of the first golf reality type show like this with 10 different personalities. To be part of this huge production and to go and win the whole thing. I mean its something special. It something that I will always cherish. It hasnt really soaked in yet but I am sure once it airs and once everything soaks in, its going to be one of the greatest accomplishments I will probably ever achieve, especially to this point.
 
Related Links:
  • The Big Break Home
  • Airtimes for The Big Break
  • Discussion Boards - Talk about the show
  • Video - Watch Justin Peters' winner interview
  • Video - Watch Anthony Sorentino's exit interview
  • Getty Images

    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

    Getty Images

    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

    Getty Images

    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

    Getty Images

    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.