Magic Tricks in Michigan

By November 25, 2003, 5:00 pm
The Big BreakEditor's Note: The Golf Channel aired the eighth 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. 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 Mother Nature reared her ugly head at the Treetops Resort in northern Michigan, the players were left in the clubhouse, killing time with some light stretching, small talk and a couple of card tricks.
 
Here we go again, spoke Justin Peters about the harsh weather the players had to deal with. Its just going to be another one of those absolute mental challenges.
 
With the field down to the final four contestants, a match-play style challenge, nasty weather and the mounting pressure all set the stage to see who would ultimately have to pull off a little magic of their own to stave off elimination.
 
As the contestants huddled under umbrellas waiting for instructions for the days first challenge, co-host Rick Smith pulled up with some good news on an otherwise dreary day. The Ford Motor Company was offering the use of a new Ford Explorer for two years to the player that would eventually win the Big Break.
 
That was a shock because none of us even expected that, quipped Peters. It just raises the bar, the pot has been sweetened!
 
Justin & Anthony team upThe first challenge split the quartet into two-man teams - Randy Block and Craig Pawling versus Justin Peters and Anthony Sorentino. The teams would face off in a three-hole Ryder Cup-style format, with each hole being worth a point. The first hole was alternate shot, the second better-ball and the third was combined team score, and the team winning the most points would receive the luxury of not having to face the upcoming elimination challenge.
 
The team of Block and Pawling quickly got a huge break, as Randys approach shot on the first hole somehow escaped the trees on the right and bounced down onto the green about 30 feet from the cup. After finding the green in regulation, a missed three-footer by Peters resulted in a three-putt bogey, giving Block and Pawling the first point of the day.
 
I felt terrible I missed that putt, said a shocked Peters. I just hit it too hard.
 
On the second hole, with better-ball in play, Peters found himself in position to win the hole with a 20-foot birdie putt, and to also gain some redemption for his short miss at the last. His putt found the bottom of the cup and earned the team its first point and drew them even heading into the final hole.
 
We had been talking all week about gut checks, and what really defines a golfer is coming through, said happy teammate Sorentino. He drained that putt and I was thrilled.
 
The final hole of the skills challenge, where combined scores would decide the winner, the contestants faced a tough 220-yard par-3. Sorentino, the only player to find the dance floor, hit a beautiful long iron that finished up just short of the flagstick. His resulting par and teammate Peters' bogey-4 beat their opponents by a stroke, leaving Block and Pawling to do battle to see who would stay alive.
 
In the elimination challenge each player was given the chance to select between one of five shots in which he felt he could beat his opponent. The five choices were a 185-yard long iron shot, a fairway bunker shot, a flop shot, a greenside bunker shot and a 65-foot putt, with the player closer to the hole being the winner. Each shot was worth a point and the first contestant to reach two points would move on to the next show.
 
Pawling was the first to choose and citing his belief in his distance control on long putts, decided to go with the putting competition. Wrong move, as his putt was well short and to the left, coming to rest 9 feet 6 inches from the hole. Block couldnt capitalize though, sending his putt racing by the hole and to the back of the green, 24 feet 2 inches away. However, by having a lower score in the skills challenge, Block wisely used the mulligan he earned and put it to good use, nestling his follow-up putt inside Pawlings and winning the point.
 
With the momentum clearly on his side, Block then selected to hit the flop shot in the second portion of the elimination challenge. The pressure was now squarely on Pawlings shoulders and he had to respond in order keep things going. And respond he did, hitting his wedge to 9 feet 1 inch and putting the pressure back in Blocks corner.
 
Its out of my hands now. Ive done all I can, said Pawling as he waited for Blocks attempt.
 
Blocks subsequent shot, however, caught the fringe and died before advancing the needed distance. The two now headed to a decisive final shot.
 
Rick Smith randomly selected the final shot in the elimination challenge, the 185-yard fairway shot, and Block was to be the first to hit. Having already struggled with his long irons in the earlier challenge, Block continued the trend, pushing his 5-iron well right of the green, 133 feet 5 inches from the hole.
 
Randy is dejectedThat opened the door for Pawling, who despite not hitting a quality shot himself, still wound up well within Blocks distance and good enough to advance.
 
The shots they hit really, truly werent a reflection of how good of golfers they really are as it was a reflection of how bad the weather was 'it was brutal, said Sorentino about Pawling and Blocks final battle. From the beginning I thought it would end up being me, Randy and Justin. So I was a little surprised, but when the weather is like that anything can happen.
 
Tune in next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the final threesome find themselves testing their all-important short game skills, seeing which two can wedge themselves into the final shows final showdown in two weeks.
 
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    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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    Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

    LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

    Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

    He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

    ''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

    Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

    They were at 7-under 135.

    Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

    Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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    Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

    ''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

    He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

    McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

    ''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

    Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.