The Battle Lines are Drawn

By September 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
The Golf Channel unveiled the first episode of The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe Tuesday night, the networks fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked just a bit 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, including the Celtic Manor Wales Open next spring.
 
The start of the Big Break IV was much like those of the previous Big Break beginnings: players of all ages, from all over the country flying in from places you may or may not have known existed. That, however, is where this installment went to another level. Or in this case, went to another continent: The Big Break headed across the pond and into Europe.

To the famed Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland, to be exact.
 
Last seen, Carnoustie was busy making a verb out John Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open. Now its to be the seen of the Ryder Cup-style Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe.
 
Big Break II you looked at it like you were going to meet the competition, said Bart Lower, speaking about the unique team format that this series presents. This time though, for me, was like Im going to meet my team.
 
And with that, team United States boarded a plush British Airways jumbo jet and headed over the Atlantic to meet up with there soon to be rivals from all over Europe.
 
Now we have little competition going. Now its not just boys having fun, said T.J. Valentine, after seeing a video in which Guy Woodman of England predicted his side would have the advantage in the upcoming contests.
 
That temperament rolled onto the range before the players began the competition, as the two teams finally got their first glance of each other up close.

We sort of waved to them, and some of them didnt wave back and I thought, Oh God, is this going to be this serious all the way through, said Marty Wilde Jr. on what he perceived as a brush off by the Americans.
 
Co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks eventually met with both squads and informed them they were not wasting any time and to head to the tee box.
 
Playing in three sets of twosomes, each team played the 17th and 18th holes at Carnoustie and the team with the fewest amount of strokes would be given a shot to win a 2006 Ford Explorer.
 
Although no one was scheduled to get ousted from the show on the first day, it didnt take long for tensions and nerves to start to take hold.
 
I got to take the first shot of Big Break IV. The nerves kind of came in when I peeked up before my tee shot and saw everybody, admitted Valentine. Theres going to be a lot of people watching this shot dont screw it up!
 
Sure enough, Valentines opening salvo found a burn to put the first American twosome in a tough spot. He more than made up for his miscue, however, as he rolled home two straight clutch par-saving putts to keep the score tied after the first pairing.
 
In the second group to go out, the U.S. sent out self-admitted country boy Tommy Gainey from Bishopville, S.C.
 
A guy with two gloves and a baseball swing, recalled Gainey on his welcome to the big time moment. Everybody was anxious to see me hit.
 
Up to the challenge, Gainey laid up just shy of the burn, much to the delight of his partner Randall Hunt.
 
Tommy takes out his 5-wood and he just ripped it! said Hunt.
 
The good vibe was short lived unfortunately, as Team USA had disastrous trip into one of the legendary nasty bunkers at Carnoustie and fell five shots back of the Europeans heading into the last pairing.
 
Even though they had a substantial lead, I knew anything could happen in the Big Break, said Lower of the U.S., hinting at a possible comeback for him and his teammates.
 
After trading pars on the first hole, the Europeans clinched it with another easy par at the 18th to advance to the Prize Challenge for the Ford Explorer.
 
Its a good thing we came out a little bit squirrelly, because now we understand the snowball effect that can happen, said Lower about his teams defeat. So it was a good learning experience for us.
 
The Ryder Cup is the greatest event in golf for the greatest players in golf. So for the
level we are, this is our Ryder Cup, added Edoardo Gardino of Italy, who has the opportunity in the past to caddy for the likes of Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal.
 
The European team then gathered at the home hole to take dead aim at a six-foot circle that was painted around the flagstick. From 100-yards out, any player knocking it inside the circle would drive off with a brand new vehicle.
 
You got one shot, and youve got to hit it pretty close, as the target is very small from 100-yards, said Wilde on the chances of cashing in.
 
In a driving rain that had kept up for most of the day, no one on the European side could quite dial in the number, leaving the Ford Explorer safe from a new driver.
 
Gathering all the players together once again, co-host Cellini and Sparks informed the group that come the next day, someone would be given the boot from the show and traveling back to their home country. And a certain glass breaking challenge would once again be making an appearance.
 
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
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    Photo Gallery - Final Episode
     
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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


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    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.


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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.