Team USA Bloodied Yet Not Defeated

By October 5, 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.
 
With the teams all evened up after last weeks elimination of Richard from the European team, the contestants learned that the Mulligan Challenge was back in action but with a slight twist in the format.
 
Big Break IV
T.J. Valentine uses a little body english in his effort to keep his tee shot on line.
Not only was their putting skills to be tested but also their collective knowledge of golf history as well. For each correct answer to a trivia question, the teams would be moved closer to the hole. Each player from the five man teams would get two putts from the distance determined by the trivia portion of the challenge.
 
The team with the most putts made would then be granted a mulligan to be used during the Immunity Challenge.
 
The Europeans correctly answered four of the five questions which left them with a mere four foot putt. The Americans on the other hand, could only muster one out of five and had to face a 12 foot putt.
 
It was good for moral, its good for our confidence, and it gets you going for the day, said Marty Wilde Jr. following Europes rather easy win in the trivia contest. Rather than starting out on a low one, were sort of on a high already. So that was good.
 
The big difference and advantage between the teams putts quickly became apparent as the USA managed to make just three putts. The Europeans only needed two players to exceed that total giving them another easy win over their U.S. counterparts.
 
Its a reoccurring pattern ' we do not make them beat us. We do not challenge them, observed USA Captain Paul Holtby on his teams inability to put up much of a fight.
 
It was now on to the all-important Immunity Challenge where the teams faced a tough long iron shot to determine which squad would be guaranteed a spot in next weeks episode.
 
From 180-yards out, each player had a maximum of four chances to land their ball in a 40 foot circle painted around the hole. Each miss would add to their score and the team with the higher score would head into the Elimination Challenge.
 
Cap (captain Holtby) sees the way Im hitting them on the range and hes like, Randall, player, youre going first. Youre leading the charge. And Im like, cool, get me in there, recalled a confident Randall Hunt of Team USA.
 
But he and his teammates confidence was short lived as the U.S. racked up a total of 16 shots compared to just 11 for the Euros and earned another trip to the Elimination Challenge.
 
It was such a relief. You dont have to go through all that tension (of the Elimination Challenge), all that nervous wait, said Guy Woodman of the European side. You can just basically put your feet up and relax.
 
No competition. It was a pummeling again, countered Holtby, of the sorry state of the U.S. side. And that is the way our pattern has gone so far.
 
Due to their win in the Immunity Challenge the Euros also won the right to compete in the Ford Prize Challenge, which offered a two year lease on a Ford Explorer to the contestant who could land his ball in a 6 foot circle around the flagstick. Their luck, however, had already run out as nobody was able to find the mark.
 
The focus then shifted squarely back onto the Americans as they now had to compete against each other to see who would follow former teammate Bart Lower off the show.
 
Big Break IV
For David Carnell, the party was suddenly over.
In the Elimination Challenge driving distance and accuracy were the keys for success and also the key to survival. Each player would attempt three tee shots, and points were then awarded on an escalating scale combining distance and accuracy. There were to be three rounds, with the top two point earners after Rd. 1 earning instant exemptions into next weeks show. In Rd. 2 the lowest duo would then head into a final round face-off to determine the loser.
 
In Rd. 1 both Hunt and Captain Holtby good off to great starts by tallying enough points to garner the instant exemptions.
 
This is business to me. This is how I pay for my living and I pay for my kids well being, said Holtby after advancing. Its one more step in the ultimate goal.
 
Tommy Gainey then out pointed the competition in round two, leaving T.J. Valentine and David Carnell in the battle to stay alive.
 
Valentine fired first and put two of his three attempts into the scoring grid to gain a respectable nine points.
 
Nine is a pretty good score in terms of putting pressure on somebody, said Valentine. I walked away saying, You know what? Its outta my hands now.
 
Im getting over the ball and obviously Im getting a little nervous at this point, but Im not like shaking or anything, said Carnell about what would be the final swings of the day.
 
After misfiring on his first two shots, Carnell needed the shot of his life to either tie or surpass Valentine.
 
I have no control over whats going to happen! I have no control over if Im staying or not, said an obviously nervous Valentine as Carnell approached his final shot.
 
Carnell let fly a monster tee shot only to then watch it not cut to his liking, leaving him just shy of taking out Valentine.
 
I pured it. I hit the best drive I could in the situation, recalled Carnell on his final shot of the Big Break IV.
 
Ill be alright. Ive been through a lot worse, being homeless and all this other stuff. The high and lows of my life have been pretty crazy, offered Carnell afterwards. I just wish I couldve hung out a little bit longer and showed the world a little bit more of what I had. But you know, the partys over. It wont be as much fun without me I can tell you that much!

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.
 
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.