Sudden Death Sudden Elimination

By September 28, 2005, 4:00 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 12 contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
 
At the start of Episode 3 The Big Break IV, co-host Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks informed the contestants that they would be bypassing the Mulligan Challenge this week and dive head first into Ryder Cup-style singles matches to see which team would win immunity until the next show.
 
Big Break IV
Marty Wilde Jr. reacts after hitting a stone-cold shank during the Immunity Challenge.
Since the American team had only five players at this point due to Bart Lowers exit last week, the U.S. squad had the option of choosing which player from the European side would have to sit out. They picked former British Amateur champion Warren Bladon to sit out to even the sides at five apiece.
 
Each match would be just one hole and the team with the least points after the five matches would be forced into the Elimination Challenge.
 
We were fired up! That was exciting, said T.J Valentine on the prospects of matching up in singles. Ryder Cup format, one against one, match play!
 
Starting it out for the U.S. was Tommy Gainey, who proceeded to push his tee shot way right into trouble. He wisely took his medicine by punching out into the fairway and then hit a solid approach into the green for a possible par save. He then indeed drained his 15 footer to make par to edge out his opponent, Edoardo Gardino, who couldnt get up and down from the greenside bunker.
 
Huge boost! We have a lead for the first time in the entire competition. Lets feed off that, recalled Valentine on the USAs good fortune.
 
In the second match, Frances Richard Gillot made a great par-saving 18 footer to tie David Carnell to claim a half a point and keep Europe from falling 2-down early.
 
That brought back life in the Europeans, observed Randall Hunt of the USA. Definitely a big momentum swing in the match.
 
Hunt then went out and halved his match with Guy Woodman to keep the Americans ahead by a point with two matches remaining.
 
Disaster then struck the Europeans when Marty Wilde Jr. hit a stone-cold shank off the tee that ultimately resulted in an unplayable lie and eventually the hole and the entire match. The Americans had finally won their first challenge against their European counterparts. Not that it made Wilde Jr. feel any better.
 
They (teammates) were all so nice and that made me feel even worse, confided Wilde Jr. on how he was received by his teammates after his poor performance. Because I would have rathered they just come up to me and say, 'You are rubbish!'
 
The Europeans now had the unfortunate task of facing the Elimination Challenge for the first time, something that they all had mixed feelings about.
 
Nobody wants to beat a teammate, but at the same time nobody wants to be the one who has to leave, said Gardino.
 
In the Elimination Challenge, the European team was going to have their wedge games tested as each contestant was going to be given two attempts from three different distances. Three circles were painted around the hole with the smallest circle worth five points, the intermediate circle worth three points and getting inside the biggest circle being worth just one point.
 
Big Break IV
Unable to find the target with any regularity during the Elimination Challenge, Richard Gillot was given his walking papers.
After each had hit from the 120-yard distance, Thomas Blankvoort led with two points while Woodman, Gillot, Gardino and Warren Bladon all came out with zero points.
 
They then moved to the 100-yard range and Blankvoort kept up the pressure on the others with six strong points to almost ensure his spot on the next show.
 
It was now down to the 80-yard spot and a battle was taking shape as to who would be sent packing. Woodman, Gillot, Gardino and Bladon all were still on the hot seat.
 
Its (80-yard wedge) not that simple when youre feeling it, said Woodman on trying to stay alive in the competition. But I just thought, Hey look, if you cant get two in that area you dont deserve to go through.
 
When the dust settled, Woodman and Bladon were safe from elimination but Gillot and Gardino remained tied for last. A sudden death chip off was now in order.
 
Gardino fired first and came up big, posting a pair of threes to put the pressure squarely on Gillots shoulders.
 
Gillot, however, could not match or beat Gardino as he totaled just four points, thus taking himself off the show.
 
Somebodys gotta go, said the USAs Gainey on Gillot's departure. And better him than me, or any of my teammates,
 
It was big emotion, big emotion, said the departing Gillot. It was really sad to leave my friends.
 
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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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

    Getty Images

    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.