Huffin and Puffin to Stay Alive

By November 11, 2003, 5:00 pm
The Big BreakEditor's Note: The Golf Channel aired the sixth 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.
 
With just six contestants remaining, hearty, early morning laughter on the way to the days challenges soon turned to heavy breathing. But not so much due to the rising pressure, but instead due to the most physically demanding skills challenge to date. Speed golf.
 
Im 6 4 and 250 lbs. Im not exactly svelte. Im looking at Randy and Im like, Dude, Im not doing this, said Mark Farnham about the prospects of the days first challenge.
 
Two three man teams where chosen with the objective to get the ball from the tee box and into the hole in the least amount of time and the fewest strokes as possible. Each team was then broken up into three parts ' one player to tee off, a second player stationed in the fairway and the third player positioned up near the green.
 
Farnham and Sorentino wish each other luckAfter the tee shot, the player in the fairway had to chase down the ball, and without wasting much time, hit an approach shot to the green for the waiting teammate, who then had to hurry and get the ball into the bottom of the cup. And unlike the previous skills challenges, this one came with a huge surprise ' the team that won the challenge would not have to take part in the elimination challenge.
 
When we heard the twist about the team that wins doesnt have to go to the elimination round that was so huge, everybodys jaw just dropped, recalled Justin Peters on the surprise that was thrown at the group. All of a sudden there was something pretty serious on the line.
 
The first team up had Anthony Sorentino at the tee box, Craig Pawling in the fairway and Jeff Brown near the green. Sorentino striped his tee shot down the fairway as Pawling gave chase. After a quick look at his target, Pawling sent his approach shot short of the green, about 30 yards from the pin. Brown then used a 7-iron chip that ran through the green and settled on the fringe about 25 feet from the hole. His putt ran 10 feet past the hole and his comebacker came up short, before tapping in for a six.
 
The second team of Randy Block, Peters and Farnham, hitting in that order, then took their turn in hopes of avoiding going to the elimination challenge. Blocks drive found the middle of the fairway, that left Peters about 185 yards to the pin. His 6-iron to the green missed getting caught up in the trees and rolled past the cup, stopping on the back fringe just 20 feet away. Farnham calmly knocked it to within a foot and tapped in for par and the victory.
 
Tomorrows my birthday and I was not going home. So Happy Birthday to me from Randy and from Justin because this is a big birthday present. Im really happy, said an obviously delighted and relieved Farnham.
 
A quick putting contest between the Sorentino, Pawling and Brown followed to see who would win a mulligan that could be used in the upcoming elimination challenge. Pawling sank both the putts he needed and walked away with the mulligan.
 
For the elimination challenge the three contestants were faced with hitting the long ball but with a premium on accuracy. Each player had three chances to hit a drive as far as he could which would then be measured from the distance from the tee box. A second measurement would then be taken from the middle of the fairway to where the ball came to rest. The second measurement would be subtracted from the first distance leaving the player with an adjusted total distance. The best distance of their three shots would ultimately determine who was packing their bags and heading home.
 
I knew that when I was put up against Anthony and Craig, that these guys Ive watched stripe it all week, they have quality golf swings, noted a concerned Brown.
 
Jeff Brown gets eliminatedBrown led off in the elimination round followed by Sorentino and Pawling. After each player hit, Brown had the shortest adjusted distance coming in at 233 yards. Sorentino, whose almost perfect drive finished up within a yard of the middle of the fairway, was in first at 271 yards.

Brown was suddenly in the hot seat, as he needed to hit one of his next two tee shots further than the second place Pawling to avoid putting away his clubs for good.
 
The problem was I was getting my body too far in front of it and basically was hitting a weak shot to the right, said a frustrated Brown, whose subsequent shots failed to reach the needed distance. Its one of those things, you either have it that day or you dont. I didnt have it, it wasnt there.
 
Jeff was hitting it so good on the range, but Ive never seen him hit it so bad, added Block about the departing Browns disappointing tee shots.
 
Ive had a wonderful, wonderful experience. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime, said Brown. These guys that Ive come to know and created a relationship with, theyre just super. But I cant wait to get home to my wife and kids.
 
Tune in next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the fab five gets a visit from Mother Nature and the elimination challenge has an ending you wont want to miss.
 

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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.

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

    “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 four 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. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."