The First Cut is Rough

By October 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
The Big BreakThe Golf Channel aired the second episode of its 10-part original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which 10 scratch golfers from around the country compete in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges.
 
From here on out, one contestant will be eliminated each week until there is just one man left standing. The lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
 
As the sun was rising for the second show, so, too, were the contestants' fears, knowing that as the darkness fell later that evening only nine would remain and one unfortunate golfer would be sent packing.
 
The fact that someone was going to be gone, yeah, I was nervous about that, confided 41-year-old Jeff Brown of Hampton, Ga. But as far as what we were going to do, what type of shots, I wasnt nervous about that.
 
On the range at the Treetops Resort, the players all had an opportunity to warm up in preparation for the days two challenges ' the skills challenge and the dreaded elimination challenge.
 
While most were hard at work, 56-year-old Garrett Garland seemed more interested in his competition.
 
He was spending more time walking up and down the range feeling, Hey, Im the man, I got it or whatever, noticed a somewhat annoyed Charles Calhoun about Garlands time on the range.
 
Upon arriving at the site of their first challenge, the players were greeted by Golf Channel Troubleshooter Rick Smith and co-host Katherine Roberts. Smith, who will be on hand throughout the series to offer advice, tips and dole out words of encouragement, informed the golfers of the first stiff test.
 
Big Break Episode 2Each was given 90 seconds to try and chip as many balls as they could into a three-foot foam basket attached to the top of a golf cart. But with one catch ' the golf cart would be moving toward and away from them during their allotted time. The player scoring the most direct hits would win a Sony Home Theater System and the all-important Mulligan to be used in the elimination challenge.
 
Wrestling with the physical fatigue and delicate nature of trying to chip as many balls as possible in 90 seconds, the contestants struggled in trying to lock in on the target. After all 10 gave it a go, Justin Peters, Randy Block and Jon Roddy led the way with a total of three direct hits.
 
A playoff ensued and Peters used a last-second buzzer-beater to claim the prize and the mulligan.
 
You couldnt script it any better, I mean, what a great feeling. You know, at the buzzer to win, said Peters, who has played golf on the Hooters Tour. Its just a memory Ill cherish forever.
 
Finally the time had come for the groups first elimination challenge, and time to see whose nerves could withstand the daunting pressure. Distance control was the name of the game.
 
A white stripe was painted across the fairway, 150 yards from the tee box, and the players were told that they would have three attempts to get it as close to the line as possible. Each attempt would count, as the average distance away from the line would be used to determine the order of finish.
 
A version of the good, the bad and the ugly broke out as several of the contestants knocked it stiff, a few landed somewhere in the vicinity of the white line and some, well, werent even in the ballpark.
 
Big Break Episode 2I was real nervous; I did not want to be gone. I didnt feel I deserved to be gone, after the shots I had hit, said Anthony Sorentino. I just didnt want to be out. Id get dogged out by my friends if I was out on the first show.
 
It finally came down to the last swing of the day as Mark Farnham needed to knock it close in order to oust 56-year-old Garrett Garland. Seeing spots and battling dehydration, Farnham let go of what looked like an ugly swing, only to get the results he needed to survive another day.
 
The name of the show is The Big Break. Ive probably had the biggest break so far, said Farnham. The way I finished the first round, its like one of those get out of jail for free cards.
 
As for Garland, his chance at a Big Break had come to an abrupt end.
 
Its a little depressing, but its still OK, said Garland, the first man to miss the cut. I just didnt do as well as I should have. I cant make a lot of excuses about this and that.
 
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group will face another round of tough challenges to see who will survive, and who will follow Garland off the show.
 
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.


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    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1