Present Makes Visit to the Future

By March 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
The Big Break V - HawaiiWeek after week, another contestant fails to handle the pressure and gets eliminated from The Big Break V. And the anxiety amongst the remaining eight contestants was becoming palpable.
 
Its getting more serious. Everybody is kinda going, I could go home today, recalled Julie Wells of Portland, Ore.
 
Every experience Ive every had on a golf course, pressure situations ' U.S. Amateurs, U.S. Opens ' I never thought I would say this, but they absolutely dont even compare to the pressure I felt yesterday (Episode 4), as much as my hands were shaking and much as my heart was pounding, proclaimed Becky Lucidi, the 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur champion.
 
The Big Break V
LPGA Tour stars Beth Bauer and Lori Kane made a surprise visit to The Big Break V: Hawaii.
Co-hosts Stephanie Sparks and Vince Cellini got things started in a hurry as they informed the ladies of the days Immunity Challenge, but with a little star power twist, as LPGA Tour regulars Lori Kane and Beth Bauer made a surprise visit to the show.
 
From a spot 100 yards out, Kane and Bauer would each hit a shot to the green to determine a point distance that would circle the pin. The contestants would score 2 points if they landed inside the closer of the two shots from Kane and Bauer and 1 point if inside the outer mark.
 
After the first round of attempts, nobody was able to crack a 2 pointer but five ladies were tied at a point apiece. Kane and Bauer again stepped up to the tee to establish another set of distances that would result in four separate scoring zones ' 4 points for knocking it in the inner most circle, 3 points inside the second ring and on down.
 
You want to impressive them. You want to be out there (LPGA Tour), so you want to hope that theyre thinking that youve got a good swing, said Aussie Dana Lacey on trying to hold her own against the LPGA players.
 
In round 2, the early number to beat was 2 shared by Wells, Lacey and Kristina Tucker until Jeanne Cho positioned her ball inside the third ring for 2 points and a two round total of 3 and the lead. The lead was short lived, however, as Ashley Prange knocked her approach stiff, coming to rest inside of 4 feet and good for 4 points, 5 total.
 
When Ashley had hit her shot my bubble burst because that was going to be tough to pull off, said Kim Lewellen, the last player with a shot to win the immunity.
 
And she was right, as her attempt drifted long enough to give Prange the immunity.
 
Now, the seven remaining players headed towards the Elimination Challenge where someones stay on the island of Oahu would be coming to an end.
 
I think its going to be a test of endurance ' of mental endurance, said Cho on the challenge that awaited.
 
Setting up on a par-3, the ladies were to hit three shots from three different distances ' from 90 yards, 120 yards and 146 yards. The player closest to the pin on each shot would move on to the next show and be safe from elimination. The four contestants unable to win one of the three closest to the pin shots would then play a sudden-death playoff on the par-3 to determine who would be ousted from the show.
 
Lucidi fired first from 90-yards and made it count, her ball landing just 13 feet from the hole. She then had to watch as the group one by one took aim to knock her off. And one-by-one, no one could better Lucidis mark as she joined Prange with immunity to the next show.
 
From the second location, Tuckers effort flirted with the water guarding the right side of the green but landed just a few feet right of the flagstick and it held up to win her a spot on the next episode.
 
The Big Break V
Divina Delasin is left to ponder what might have been.
Now it was down to one last chance to avoid the sudden death playoff ' from 146-yards out. With the winds howling on the North Shore of Oahu, club selection and the mounting pressure were a definite factor.
 
With the wind and knowing Im not hitting the ball solid, Im going to take an extra club and choke down, said Wells on her pre-shot strategy.
 
Her thinking may have ended up backfiring as her approach was dead on line but came up well short.
 
Lacey, who was not pleased with her effort but nevertheless was closest at this point, suddenly found herself in the drivers seat because the wind had wrecked havoc on the other ladies shots.
 
Here Im thinking Ive got a good chance even though I was totally not expecting it, recalled Lacey, who had to watch one last shot to determine her fate.
 
Divina Delasin, who had been battling leg and ankle problems throughout the day, was the last contestant to hit. But as soon as she made contact, she knew it was no good and indeed the ball found a watery grave. Lacey was on to the next show.
 
That left Delasin, Wells, Lewellen and Cho to face one another on the same par-3 but in a sudden death format. High score goes home.
 
Cho caught an early break as her tee shot found the front bunker only to bounce out and onto the light rough fronting the green. Her subsequent chip nestled to within a couple of feet for an easy tap in. Delasin was in the best position as her tee shot landed just 13 feet from the cup. After Wells and Lewellen lagged their putts close for pars, Delasin unfortunately left her birdie chance short. Four ladies, four pars. Back to the tee box.
 
We could be here a long time unless somebody just steps up and makes a birdie, said Lewellen after the four-way tie.
 
Or makes a bogey. Or worse.
 
Perhaps mentally and physically spent, Delasin proceeded to hit her tee shot to the right and it found the water. With the other three safely on the green, Delasin then chunked her chip shot and was suddenly left on the outside looking in. And then came the tears.
 
We all got emotional because Divinas got the greatest smile, the greatest laugh, the greatest character. Shes just a wonderful person, said Lewellen about her departing competitor.
 
I feel really blessed to even be here and to take in this challenge and this experience, said the disappointed but proud Delasin.
 
The Big Break V: Hawaii airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break V: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
Related Links:
  • Read a Recap of Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
  • Big Break V Photo Gallery
  • Watch Exclusive BB5 Videos
  • Download Big Break V Wallpaper
  • Play our Online Challenges
  • Getty Images

    LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

    The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

    The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

    The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

    Getty Images

    Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

    An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

    It was too much “socializing.”

    “I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

    Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

    “Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

    Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

    His plan for doing that?

    “Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

    Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

    McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

    So much for easing into the new year.

    So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

    McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

    “It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

    McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

    If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

    After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

    “It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

    McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

    It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

    “When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

    A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

    A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

    Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

    To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

    Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

    McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

    “I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

    A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

    “I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

    A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

    Getty Images

    Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

    SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

    The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

    Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

    Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

    ''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

    The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

    ''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

    Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

    ''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

    Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

    He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

    Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

    Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

    He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

    Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.