Early Birds Get the Worms

By October 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
The Big BreakThe Golf Channel aired the third episode of its 10-part original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which 10 scratch golfers from around the country compete in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges.
As is the format, one contestant will be eliminated each week until there is just one man left standing. The lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
After losing Garrett Garland in last weeks show, this weeks skills challenge and elimination challenge had everyones complete attention. Well, almost everyones.
Charles Calhoun, the shows resident clown, had overslept and in the process didnt get the kind of start hed hoped for heading into the day.
Enroute to the course for the days events, co-host Katherine Roberts jokingly told Calhoun, Charles, we were thinking you were trying out for the next reality show called Golfers Gone Wild, in reference to Calhouns rather auspicious start.
Once at the course, the group was presented with a skills challenge that would put a premium on touch and accuracy with a short iron.
Three 55-gallon drums were placed in front of each contestant. They would have 90 seconds to chip as many balls as they could into the empty barrels. The barrels were marked with three different point values - five, three and one - each depending on its level of difficulty.
The Big BreakJon Roddy was one of the first to take the challenge and he put on a display that had everyone quite impressed, including himself.
When I took my first couple of shots, the wedge that I had, the motion that I had were perfect for it, said Roddy, who posted an almost unbeatable score of 35 points.
You know, I thought I did good until I heard Jons score. I turned around and they put a 35 up there, added Jeff Brown in apparent disbelief.
Roddys high score did indeed hold up against the other eight competitors and he happily picked up a Sony Mini Hi-Fi Component System and the all-important mulligan.
Before the remaining nine knew it, the fun and games were over and the elimination challenge was upon them.
The collars are getting tighter, man. Were all buddies, but someone is going home, quipped Anthony Sorentino, adding, You're not really rooting against anybody, youre just trying to do your best.
For the elimination challenge, the contestants were faced with three difficult greenside shots ' a long bunker shot, a chip out of U.S. Open-style rough from just off the green, and an 80-foot shot from the fringe. Each players attempts would be measured from the distance it finished from the hole, and the one with the highest average total after all three shots would miss the cut and be eliminated.
The first shot ' the bunker shot ' was a scary shot, said Justin Peters, who placed second to Roddy in the skills challenge. I just tried to go back to the basics and let my natural abilities take over.
Luckily, no one left their attempt in the bunker, although a few shots did sail the green and a couple more just managed to reach the dance floor. After the long bunker shots were concluded, Sorentino held the top spot, but Calhoun, Brown and Roddy were in a little trouble as they made their way over to the thick, nasty rough.
In this type of competition every single shot is so big, every shot, noted Brown, who landed his chip close to the pin. Its not just the swing that comes into play, its your thoughts, your emotions. Its everything.
The results were varied coming out of the thick stuff, with the 26-year-old Peters jumping into the lead, but more importantly, it was Mark Farnham, Randy Block, Calhoun and Brown who were in hot water and starting to feel the pressure of the final shot.
The Big BreakThats probably the most nervous Ive ever been because of the fact that if I hit it short and it goes back down, I know Im packing my bags, said Block, whose performance in the first two shots wasnt cutting it. His final shot of the day nestled close to the target area and he would survive to see another day.
It finally came down to Calhoun, who had flown the green with his bunker shot and barely advanced his ball on the chip from the rough. Needing a miracle, Calhouns final shot was solid, finishing 10 feet from the pin, but it was not close enough to overcome the position he had put himself in.
Somebodys gotta win, somebodys gotta lose. Unfortunately it was me, but life still goes on, said an understandably dejected Calhoun, whose late start in the morning led to an earlier than expected exit that evening.
It was a shame to see him go. I was really disappointed it was him but it could have been any one of us, said Craig Pawling, voicing the opinion of most of the competitors. But that just goes to show you how this game works.
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group will face a shot Phil Mickelson has made famous The remaining eight square off in another round of tough challenges to see who will survive and who will miss the cut.
Related Links:
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.