Its Been a Rollercoaster Ride for Prange

By Futures Tour MediaMay 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
The Big Break V - HawaiiShe had known and lived with the outcome of The Golf Channel's 'Big Break V: Hawaii' reality TV series for months, but Ashley Prange was still a bundle of nerves last Tuesday night when Tour members gathered at Chuy's restaurant in Tucson, Ariz., for a player meeting and viewing of the popular show's final outcome.
 
In one way, it was comforting to have her friends and peers around watching as she and fellow Tour member Jeanne Cho competed in the final episode. In another way, Prange chomped her gum anxiously and relived every shot while perched on the edge of a billiards table in the restaurant's game room.
 
There were whoops and screams and collective groans on missed putts and applause at the end. One player asked Prange to sign her name on a piece of paper, then held up the paper and shouted, 'E-Bay!' And then Prange and Cho walked over to each other and embraced for the second and final time that this 11-player contest had ended. This time, the 6-month secret was officially out. The perpetual questioning was over. The victor was Prange with a 5 and 4 win over Cho.
 
And then Cho whispered into Prange's ear a message that probably would have been seconded by every player in the room. 'Represent us well and play great golf,' Cho told the winner.
 
Those words are still ringing in Prange's ear, along with her cell phone that logged nearly 80 voicemails and text messages from Tuesday night to Thursday morning last week. E-mails poured in on her laptop and Tour officials received numerous requests by media for Prange's time. It was as if a star was born when the final putt dropped on this popular golf reality show -- one that is based on golf skills challenges. A camera crew from the Golf Channel showed up last week in Tucson and followed Prange during her practice round, post-BBV show celebration, during media interviews and during her time with fans wanting photos and autographs.
 
But while Prange has the confident personality to handle the public attention and media interest, as well as the chutzpah to press the flesh with strangers and still play solid professional golf, her new role as the show's winner comes with a price. Prange is never alone. Her phone never stops ringing. And for the first time this season, the player ranked No. 3 on the Tour's 2006 Money List missed her first 36-hole tournament cut by two shots -- taking double-bogey on her last hole in the second round when her tee shot landed out of bounds.
 
'This was a big learning week for me,' said Prange, 24, of Noblesville, Ind. 'My preparation was not adequate. Of course I want to ride this as much as I can, but not to the point that I snap.'
 
Prange is in something of a damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn't quandary. With so many requests for her time, a failure to properly balance her tournament preparation time can have negative results on her tournament performances, but by the same token, she understands the limited shelf life of stardom and feels compelled to accommodate most requests. The balancing act, however, is a new concern in her young professional career and Prange is the first to admit that she's a rookie in managing her time and public commitments.
 
'I've got to learn how to say no and to prioritize my schedule,' she said. 'I'm not going to make everybody happy. I wouldn't want it any other way and I have no room to complain, but this has been a lot to be placed on my plate in a week. I have a lot to learn about this kind of attention.'
 
The fact is, Prange can play. She played well enough to win the second Duramed FUTURES Tour tournament of the season in Tampa, Fla., and has posted three top-10 finishes in seven events this year. A four-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference player while at the University of North Carolina, she recorded three tournament wins in college and was a 2004 NCAA First Team All-American. And on Big Break V: Hawaii, she proved that she could still perform with cameras poised at every angle, filming shots-on-command that could send a player packing with one miscue.
 
But while Prange says she might 'look [like she's] ready for a dog fight' on the golf course at all times, there's still a side to the outgoing second-year pro that sheds tears when she feels the sting of criticism from her peers.
 
'I know I'm a target,' she said. 'I've received a lot of criticism by my peers. I've heard people say I'd be a horrible ambassador for our Tour and for women's golf. That really hurts.'
 
But the daughter of PGA teaching professional Bob Prange also knows a few things about bouncing back. She did it this year after posting only two top-10 finishes in 18 tournaments last season to finish 46th on the Tour's 2005 Money List. She did it after missing the cut in the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament last December. She took nearly four weeks off and didn't touch a golf club, sorting through the disappointment.
 
'It was nerves,' she said of her LPGA Q-School demise. 'I let the pressure completely mount. To get to the final stage and have a horrendous week was incredibly disappointing.'
 
Prange walked away from that Q-School experience believing that she had to relearn how to enjoy golf and to not be so tough on herself. She also pushed away from her disappointments in 2005 and called the entire season a 'process.'
 
'It's a teeter-totter and I'm doing what I can to find the balance of getting my game to where I know I should be while trying to enjoy the process of getting there,' she said.
 
Prange's success on BBV no doubt, bolstered her confidence and built a solid foundation for her 2006 competitive season. But while the show was structured around players' execution of specific golf shots, it also was centered on character development -- which, says Prange, was something every player knew going into the show.
 
'Ultimately, it is a TV production and it's about what makes good TV drama,' Prange said. 'I knew there were going to be character types. I knew I'd be portrayed as the intense, fiery competitor who happens to be blonde. I knew that I would rub some people the wrong way. But I also know that it's your game that speaks for itself in the long run.'
 
Prange has weathered the criticism. And she took what she learned about stress through the show into the current competitive season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. Surviving contestants in the show were the ones who were able to hit particular shots at specific times. She learned to control the same jangling nerves that derailed her efforts at LPGA Q-School and she used that new awareness to win her first professional title in Tampa.
 
But Prange believes one of her biggest hurdles this year will be, once again, keeping her nerves under control when she plays in the LPGA Tour exemption at the Safeway Classic in Portland (Aug. 18-20) that she gained by winning Big Break V. She has never played in an LPGA tournament. And she is well aware of the furor Danielle Amiee caused last year as the winner of Big Break III when she posted a 'DNS' -- meaning a 'Did Not Show' at the 2005 LPGA Corning Classic.
 
'Because of what happened, there's now a stereotyped notion about the winner of the Big Break show,' she said. 'I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity and I'm going to work my tail off to be as effective as possible at the Safeway Classic.'
 
As a promotional tool in Prange's preparation to play in the LPGA's Safeway Classic, The Golf Channel will launch a four-episode show called 'Game On: Ashley's Big Break' that will chronicle how she prepares for her exemption. Prange will be given a mini-cam to collect her own video scrapbook of practice rounds, dinner with friends, private housing hosts and off-course interests. Filming for the series will begin this week. The four shows will begin airing in mid-July and will lead up to Prange's LPGA Tour appearance.
 
As a journalism, advertising and sports marketing major at North Carolina, Prange understands the value of her current experience. She sees it as a marketing tool for future endorsements and sponsorships. She knows that signing autographs for fans and responding to them politely is necessary, even on those tough weekends when she misses a cut and returns on a Sunday afternoon to putt -- only to be questioned by well-intending fans who recognize her and want to know why she's not playing.
 
Prange always looked up to LPGA Tour veterans Michelle McGann and Nancy Lopez, because they could successfully balance their work lives and personal lives. And she aspires to do what Dottie Pepper has done -- play a solid career on the LPGA Tour, and then move into golf TV commentary.
 
And while the public doesn't see the side of Prange that sits quietly and writes thank-you notes each Monday to those who made a difference at each Duramed FUTURES Tour tournament site, it is there, balancing the confident swagger of a woman who wants to win and makes no apologies about it.
 
'I do what I have to do to play the game, to play great golf and to move up to the next level, but I'm also going to remember the people who helped get me there because I'm sure to see them again on the way back down,' she said.
 

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Ashley 3 4 5 4 4 4 4 3 5 36 4 4 5 3 4 X X X X 2056
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    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. 

    Getty Images

    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

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.