Fighting for A Spot in the Final Twosome

By December 7, 2004, 5:00 pm
Big Break II LogoEditors Note: The Golf Channel aired the ninth episode of The Big Break II Tuesday night, where 10 highly skilled golfers compete to win an opportunity to play in four Nationwide Tour events televised on The Golf Channel in 2005.

Week 9 saw a skills challenge with the stakes as high as ever, and the winner gaining an automatic spot in the final episode.

With seven contestants gone, the pressure was on the final three and each knew that any mistake could cost them dearly.

Imagine being as nervous as you can possibly be and trying to thread a needle. Thats what were trying to do out here, said Bart Lower, the youngest of the group. And if you dont thread it, you lose.

The skills challenge had each player hit a total of five drives and then attempt three putts from different distances. The five drives were awarded a point total depending on the length of each tee shot. The players then had to hole out putts from 15, 40 and 65 feet. The player who had the best-combined finish would receive the elimination exemption.

After Lower and Kip Henley III completed their five tee shots, it was left in the hands of Don Donatello to win the driving portion of the challenge outright.

I said, If you want this bad enough, youll hit it low and youll run it all the way down there, said Donatello on his final chance. I knew when it left my club that it was going to be awfully close.

Close it was, but it was good enough to give Donatello the edge over Lower to win the first round of the skills challenge. The emotional toll, however, was starting to weigh heavily on Donatello.

The Big Break III was very nervous. I couldnt get the darn ball on the tee, he said. My hand was shaking so much I couldnt get it on the tee. Ive never had that problem ever.

With the advantage of being in the lead, Donatello putted first from 15 feet and thought he had holed the putt only to see it lip out, resulting in a two putt.

I hit that putt perfect and I went to step because I thought I made it, said a frustrated Donatello. That might be the last time I ever step toward the hole like I made it.

Lower ultimately won the putting round of the skills challenge to set up a playoff against Donatello to see who would win immunity for the day and earn a spot in the finals.

After draining the playoff-winning putt and realizing he was in the finals, Donatello could no longer contain his emotions as the tears began to flow.

A lot of relief there. A lot of pressure builds up that people might not realize, said co-host Rick Smith upon seeing Donatellos passionate reaction.

Lower and Henley then made their way to the Top-Flite mulligan challenge, where the infamous wall from the first season of the Big Break made its return. Lower easily defeated both the wall and Henley to earn the mulligan for use in the elimination challenge that soon followed.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring system, the two men played three holes with the one accruing the most points advancing to meet Donatello in the final episode.

The elimination was three holes. Not easy holes, recalled Lower. Definitely not holes you want to face when your stomach is in your throat.

Both made pars on the first hole and headed to the second, which was a 172-yard par-3. Henley hit his shot on the green and Lower pushed his to the right but pin high. His resulting chip raced by the hole some 12 feet and he quickly and wisely chose to take his mulligan.

At that point I knew how to hit the shot and that I could possibly make this shot, said Lower about his second attempt.

He didnt hole out with his mulligan, but it was good enough to keep pace with Henley as they went to the final hole all tied.

After each player hit formidable tee shots, Lowers approach finished about 30 feet away from the hole, setting the stage for Henley. Contemplating whether to go straight at the pin or play it safe, Henley listened to his demons and let fly his 9-iron.

The Big Break IIAsking it to be right, Henley could breath easier as his approach nestled up to within 3 feet of the cup. He watched as Lower missed his birdie effort, and then ran home his short putt to knock out Lower and win a spot alongside Donatello.

Im a huge, huge believer in fate. And how I got beat that was just the way it was suppose to be, said the departing Lower. Maybe this will offer me an opportunity where Ill get a chance to really work on my game and really see how far I can take it.

This experience was once in a lifetime and its something Ill never forget.

Be sure to watch The Golf Channel Tuesday December 14th at 9:00PM (ET), as the race for the four Nationwide Tour exemptions comes down to the final two contestants on The Big Break 2.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

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    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.