Making the Turn - 7th Elimination

By November 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe, is The Golf Channels fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked to include a team dynamic. But that in no way means the stakes arent high for each individual, as the contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
 
Now that half of the original 12 contestants had been eliminated and with just two Americans remaining, the show took a new direction. And that was unfortunate news for Team Europe, as Americans T.J. Valentine and Paul Holtby were assured a spot in the next episode, meaning a member of the Euro team was set to be knocked off the show.
 
Big Break IV
Guy Woodman does his best Hale Irwin imitation as he does a victory lap after sinking the 45-foot putt to win the Ford Prize Challenge.
I didnt want to get to emotional seeing people go at this stage because its a point where Id rather see that someone else went than I did, said Marty Wilde Jr. on his feelings about the team concept slowing dissolving.
 
With the U.S. team sitting out, the Immunity Challenge had the four Europeans putting from four different spots on the green. Though similar in lengths, each putt had a different break and varied in speed. The player who needed the fewest putts total after putting from all four locations would win the immunity.
 
Wilde Jr. got things rolling quickly as he drained the first of his four attempts. He was soon matched by Guy Woodman, who also knocked down his effort. Thomas Blankvoort and Warren Bladon meanwhile each recorded 2s on the putt.
 
All four players made 2s on the second attempt before moving on to the third spot, where Woodman caught fire and turned the momentum clearly in his favor. His putt from the third location found the bottom of the cup but he then watched as both Blankvoort and Bladon knocked in their attempts. Wilde Jr. couldnt keep pace with Woodman and fell a stroke back after three rounds.
 
In Rd. 4, Woodman again found the hole on his first stroke to easily win the immunity and earn a chance at the Ford Prize Challenge, where a two-year lease on a Ford Explorer was up for grabs.
 
The biggest thing is relief, knowing that you are straight through (to the next show), that you have the rest of the afternoon off and you can just watch the others battle it out, said Woodman on his good fortune in the Immunity Challenge.
 
But his day wasnt done yet as he had one attempt ' from 45 feet' to roll home a putt that would win him the Ford Prize Challenge.
 
Marty had said he had an epiphany and he thought that Guy would hole it, said Blankvoort as they watched Woodmans long bomb effort. I didnt have an epiphany but I had a feeling that he might hole this as well. He just looked comfortable on that green today.
 
Turns out that Wilde Jr. was right on the mark, as Woodman sank the 45-footer to collect the two-year lease much to the delight of the cast and crew surrounding the green.
 
It was just one of those days when it was my day. It was nice to see, recalled Woodman on the meaning of winning the Ford Prize Challenge. Its just been a dream come true really, because Ive struggled playing the mini-tours and financially its tough.
 
As the excitement wore off following Woodmans big putt, reality set in on the three remaining Europeans, one of who was set to be ousted.
 
We all know it takes just one destructive shot and youre out, said Bladon on the anxiety-filled Elimination Challenge. But as long as you do your best you cant be disappointed.
 
In the Elimination Challenge the three players got to choose one of five separate locations to hit a shot. After the group had played from the three different spots, a random draw would determine a fourth and final shot. The player with most total strokes would be eliminated.
 
A little twist was thrown into the format. The player with the fewest strokes after the third shot would be safe from elimination.
 
Blankvoort was first up and chose a difficult flop shot that had to carry a bunker between the spot and the green. His attempt nestled to within 4 feet of the hole. He then watched as Bladon hit a brilliant flop shot that came to rest just inches from the hole. Wilde Jr. hit last and saw his effort come up well short of the hole leaving about a 12 foot putt.
 
Needing the putt to drop to avoid falling behind early, Wilde Jr. was up to the task, draining it to keep things all tied up after the first round.
 
It was a real boost for me because it looked like I was going to go down at that point, recalled Wilde Jr.
 
Bladon followed by electing to hit from a target 100-yards from the flagstick.
 
Im normally pretty good from that range, I can get quite a bit of control with my sand wedge, a bit of spin, so I was quite confident with that one, said Bladon the type of shot he chose.
 
Though not spectacular, Bladons effort settled some 20 feet from the pin. Wilde Jr. hit second and caught a bit of a break as his shot skirted around a bunker guarding the green which left him on the fringe looking at about 20 feet from the hole. Blankvoort then hit his shot just over the green stopping about 35 feet from the pin.
 
Big Break IV
Warren Bladon raises his arm in premature celebration before seeing his final chip to stay alive bounce out of the cup.
Like Woodman before him in the Immunity Challenge, Wilde Jr. began to seize control of the moment as his 20 footer hung on the lip before falling into the hole to give him a one shot advantage heading into Rd. 3. Bladon and Blankvoort both had missed their long birdie efforts.
 
Hes a streaky player. I mean, hell hit a bad shot but hell make a helluva recovery shot, observed U.S. team player T.J. Valentine.
 
With momentum on his side and his turn to make the decision from which spot to hit from, Wilde Jr. elected to hit from a mark 160-yards from the hole.
 
I just hit shots from there all the time it just seems like my sort of comfort zone, said Wilde Jr., referring to a practice hole he regularly plays on back home.
 
Keeping the pressure on, Wilde Jr. found the green and looked no worse than a two-putt away. Blankvoort, too, found the green as did Bladon with their attempts, though Warren was a good distance away. Bladon left his putt a good 6 feet short and then much to his dismay pulled his second putt left of the hole to take a 4.
 
Wilde Jr. was thrilled as his two-putt enabled him to win the bonus incentive and live to play in the next show. Blankvoort tapped in his second putt and thus carried a one stroke lead over Bladon to the last hole.
 
The final shot was from just off the green about 35 yards to the pin. The tough choice became which club to use: putter, wedge or short iron for a classic European bump and run.
 
Blankvoort fired first and chose to use his putter, much to the chagrin of the on looking U.S. and European teams.
 
I wanted to run up there and tell him, No, this is the wrong option, said Woodman on Blankvoort decision to use his putter.
 
When Thomas pulled out his putter we were all shocked, added Valentine, citing wet conditions and the inconsistency of the green for the reason of their concern.
 
But Blankvoorts long putt never lost sight the hole, coming to rest a mere 2 feet from the flagstick. Cast and crew immediately knew that Bladon now had the almost impossible task of holing out to extend the Elimination Challenge.
 
The cards were on the table, Ive got to hole it to continue, said Bladon on his chances to stay alive.
 
Having witnessed Woodman heroics in the Ford Prize Challenge and then Wilde Jr.s hot streak moments earlier, could Bladon pull off one of the greatest shots in Big Break history?
 
He made solid contact with his wedge and then watched as it tracked towards the hole, the closer it got the better it looked. Three feet from the hole, two feet from the hole, one foot from the hole ' it was dead on. The ball then began to drop into the back of the cup only to catch the back lip and pop out of the hole.
 
He hit a fantastic shot, I mean you couldnt have played it better and I have no idea how that ball did not go in, said Wilde Jr.
 
Bladons run came to an end as Blankvoort rolled in his putt to send the European team captain off the show.
 
Theres always the senior tour, for when Im 50, which isnt too far away, said Bladon, 39, with a chuckle.

The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break IV: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
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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.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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