Emotions Running High for Final Four

By March 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
The Big Break IIIEditors note: The Golf Channels Big Break III ' Ladies Only is the third installment of this hit series. As the title suggests, however, this season is just for the ladies. The 10 contestants are vying for entry into select LPGA tournaments, including the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.
 
After the original group of 10 contestants had been cut in half, the remaining five ladies gathered together for what turned out to be a rather quiet breakfast at the condo, as the pressures and personal differences were beginning to rise to the surface.
 
Big Break III
Despite a minor flap with a fellow competitor, Danielle Amiee was able to keep her focus.
Soon, however, co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks had the focus turned back to golf with the days opening Mulligan Challenge, where the ladies were asked to thread the needle on an approach shot.
 
Hitting from three separate spots, they had to hit through an opening much like that of a doorway to a green some 80-yards away. All five would hit from the first spot and the one finishing the furthest away would be ousted. Same was to be said in the second round until the third and final round where whoever was closest would win the mulligan.

It looked like a gigantic garage door, recalled Liz Uthoff about the obstacle. It was just huge.
 
Cindy Miller was the odd woman out after the first series of shots, followed by Pam Crikelair in the second round, leaving Ochoa, Uthoff and Amiee in the final.
 
With the opening having been made even smaller, Uthoff led off and hit a beautiful low runner that finished up a mere 20 feet from the pin. Ochoa and Amiee were unable to get inside that number giving Uthoff the much sought after mulligan.
 
Winning the mulligan feels good since you never know whats ahead of you in the Skills Challenge, said Uthoff after her small victory.
 
It was now on to the Skills Challenge and in honor of March Madness the ladies would be playing a golf version of the basketball game H-O-R-S-E. Each player got to choose a shot to play and who ever finished closest to the pin on that shot wouldnt receive a letter. In addition to that, they got to give out an extra letter to whomever she felt needed one. The player who spelled B-R-E-A-K first would be eliminated until one player was left standing and that player would the win the immunity.
 
Miller took control of the challenge early on winning the first three shots. She used the extra letter she got to hand out to eliminate a visible upset Amiee.
 
Along with getting the boot, Amiee got into some hot water from Crikelair over what Crikelair perceived to be a slight from Amiee about her game, or lack there of.
 
Im not used to people talking trash, said a slightly miffed Crikelair. Beat me with your game. And dont talk smack, on purpose.
 
I had no problem losing that challenge but I was a little mentally frustrated because I have had almost zero chances of winning any of the exemptions, said Amiee on her quick departure in the Skills Challenge. And its been tough to hang in there.
 
Miller wasnt finished however and swiftly locked up yet another immunity by getting closest to the pin on Crikelairs bunker shot to win the Skills Challenge. It was her third straight show in which she won the exemption.
 
Drive for show and putt to stay on the show was a good way to describe to Elimination Challenge as the remaining four ladies were each faced with four 24-foot putts from each side of the hole on an LPGA Tour-like fast, slick green. The player who had the highest accumulated total putts would see her dream come to an end.
 
Every Elimination Challenge is nerve-racking, remarked Crikelair. Somebodys going to leave, somebody has to lose.
 
All four players came out of the gate well, despite some shaking hands due to nerves. Each two-putted the first two holes to force a four-way tie heading into the last two putts.
 
After I went into sudden-death overtime against Jan (Dowling) I had tasted defeat. I definitely had a taste of what could come, said Crikelair on the mounting pressure of the situation. I was definitely nervous.
 
When I saw them shaking and unable to put their balls down, I knew they didnt understand competitive golf, said Amiee, sizing up her opponents.
 
On the third putt of the challenge, Ochoas lag putt cruised past the cup leaving her with a tough 7 foot comebacker. Her attempt lipped out of the hole giving her the first three of the competition.
 
I thought she would just nail it on the way back and when I saw it lip out, my heart just sunk, offered Crikelair on Ochoas misfortune.
 
In the end Ochoas costly three-putt was indeed too much to overcome as Crikelair, Amiee and Uthoff each finished up with 8 total points and then watched as Ochoas final putt to tie drifted wide.
 
I said, Try to be yourself, try to do the best you can. And try to improve and to learn, said the departing Ochoa.
 
To be 25-years-old, to support a whole family ' wow. What guts this kid has, said Miller on her admiration for Ochoa. I mean, I truly respect her.
 
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET) as the final four ladies face yet another twist on the Big Break III - Ladies Only!
 
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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.