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.
 
Related Links:
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x