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
  • Big Break IV Photo Gallery
     

    Photo Gallery - Final Episode
     
    Big Break III Home
     
    Airtimes for The Big Break
     
    Discussion Boards - Talk about the show
  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


    Playing with the pros

    Tiger, DJ and Faxon

    Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


    President at the Presidents Cup


    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


    Cart on the green


    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


    Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


    Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


    Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


    Trump golf properties

    Vandalism

    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

    Finances


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers


    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

    Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

    Getty Images

    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?