A Floppin Good Time

By October 29, 2003, 5:00 pm
The Big BreakThe Golf Channel aired the fourth episode of its original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which a group of scratch golfers vie in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges.
 
Each week one contestant will be eliminated until there is just one man left standing on the tee box. That lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
 
As the motor home rambled its way through the hills of northern Michigan en route to the course, the road ahead seemed to keep the contestants on the edge of their seats. Many of them guessing what surprises were in store.
 
A surprise comes every half hour, it seems, spoke Justin Peters about the shows twists. Something new and exciting just keeps us on our toes. Its great.
 
I knew it was going to be something, but the way the day unfolded, it was definitely not what I expected, added Jeff Brown as they pulled up to the skills challenge.
 
A large eight-foot wall was erected next to a pear-shaped green where the players were asked to pull off a daunting flop shot over the wall to a flag tucked five paces from the fringe. Each contestant would be given two shots to get it close, with the top three advancing to the second round of the challenge.
 
Craig Pawling hits flop shotThe top two from the second round would then face off in a playoff to decide who would win the all-important mulligan to be used in the elimination challenge. But there was one catch ' after each round the wall was raised an additional two feet, making an already difficult shot even more treacherous.
 
That flop shot was unbelievable, said Orlando native Jon Roddy. To get over that first wall was a feat in itself because there is some basics mechanics that you've got to achieve to pull that shot off.
 
Mark Farnham, Brown and Roddy moved on to round two after wonderfully played shots to within 10 feet of the cup. Brown then fell by the wayside coming into the final round.
 
With the wall now standing at 12 feet, both Farnham and Roddy needed to pull off miracle shots.
 
The third section was even worse, said Roddy, who eventually fell to Farnham in the playoff. When the pressure is there its just a different story and to see something that tall and that close, the viewer had to be there to experience that feeling.
 
Golfs a game of flowing emotions, things go up, things go down, said Farnham. You win a skills challenge, things go right up. But the moment thats done, guess what, clean slate for everyone, right back to where you started. And you know what, its an elimination challenge. So next thing you know you, things are on the line again.
 
For the elimination challenge, a difficult long iron shot would ultimately determine whose time had run out. A green 210 yards away had two rectangles painted around the hole, with three points awarded for the smaller target, two points for the medium target and one point would be given out for anything that landed on the green but wasnt inside the first two targets.
 
Each contestant was given three attempts and the player that accumulated the least amount of points would be eliminated.
 
Its a scary thought when you've got a 210-yard approach shot into a green and its boiling down to one, two, three shots, said Brown, as the elimination round pressure began to build. Which is the difference between continuing on the next day or going home.
 
As the challenge unfolded, the difficulty of the shot became apparent as the small target kept scores at a minimum. A top score of three was set by Randy Block, who was the only one to knock it inside the tiny three-point area.
 
At the end of the challenge, two unfortunate contestants were unable to post a score and a Big Break playoff ensued. With hearts pounding and the clock ticking on what could be their last minutes on the show; Steve Duemig and Craig Pawling were again given three shots to produce a score that would stave off elimination.
 
I wouldnt want to put myself in that situation. The pressure wouldve been immense, added a relieved Roddy about the playoff, who was one of six golfers already safely on to the next show.
 
Steve Duemig struggles with long ironsPawling was first to go and with his second attempt landed a nice 4-iron in the two-point target area to put the pressure on Duemig.
 
When you get in front of a camera and you get under the gun and you cant breathe, you cant grip the club and you cant execute anything, then you know how tough the game is, said an obviously nervous Duemig.
 
With his first two shots failing to score points, it was down to one last swing to become a hero or a goat. A three pointer would have sent Pawling packing, but for Duemig, his final shot came up short, and so, too, did his quest for the Big Break.
 
I am what I am now ' a decent amateur, said Duemig with a laugh, although he was a little disappointed not be moving on for at least one more round.
 
He hung in there. He hung in there like a champion the whole week, added Roddy of the departing Duemig. And you gotta respect that!
 
With the field now pared down to seven contestants be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group will face an unbelievable elimination challenge that has the groups emotions running high.
 
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."