Season Six Starts Off with a Bang

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
The Big Break VIAs Donald Trump issued his welcome to the 18 Big Break VI: Trump National contestants, his boardroom demeanor clearly suggested it was time to get down to the business of survival. Sixteen of the competitors acted on the message while Sid Corliss, 58, a seasoned competitor from Cumming, Ga., and Karyn Stordahl-Utecht, 25, a former Miss Minnesota married to an Indianapolis Colt, were eliminated from the 12-week competition in a short game challenge.
 
Big Break 6
Donald Trump rolls into action on the first episode of the Big Break IV: Trump National.
Corliss and Stordahl-Utecht cant say they werent warned. Trump electrified the atmosphere in a video greeting to the contestants en route to Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles with the warning, Enjoy your view along Trump National drive, because the competition begins right now.
 
And the sixth season of The Golf Channels popular series began with intrigue. Not knowing what was at stake, each contestant climbed steps 40 feet to an elevated tee to hit nothing more than a wedge towards the hole 65 yards away. Ashley Gomes (Pleasanton, Ca.) was the top female with an effort resting 71 from the hole while Jeff Mitchell (Frisco, Tex.) earned male honors at 14 3. Their reward for being the closest to the pin was immunity from elimination in episode one.
 
I was shocked and extremely happy said Gomes. The one thing no one wants to do is to be the first to leave.
 
The concept pits nine men and nine women competing against each other in a variety of challenges that test their skills and mental toughness for the right to compete in two Champions Tour and two LPGA Tour events, respectively. One female and one male will be eliminated from the series each week, with the two standing being crowned Big Break VI: Trump National winners.
 
Living up to the shows billing, Trump had something to say about who was staying and who was going home. After Sara Lynn Johnston (Williamston, S.C.), Kristy McPherson (Conway, S.C.), Albert Crews (Homer, La.) and Denny Hepler (Warsaw, Ind.) gained immunity over the next two challenges, The Donald sent tremors though the competitors and shook things up in earthquake country.
 
The twist was the six competitors who had gained immunity picked a partner from the remaining contestants and would team with them in episode two. Those players picked would be immune from elimination for the remainder of the first episode while the remaining six would be forced to play in an elimination challenge.
 
One by one the immune contestants walked the driving range looking for the intangible that would make a relative stranger a teammate. Like a puppy liberated from the pound, those picked hugged their rescuer while the others felt the sting of playground rejection.
 
Im like the kid not being picked in dodge ball, explained a dejected Bri Vega (North Andover, Mass.), one of those not picked and forced to play in the elimination challenge. No one wanted me as a partner.
 
Making the rejection worse, The Donald also added incentives to stave off elimination by revealing the ultimate winner of The Big Break VI would receive what he called a really big check that would be personally presented during the champions trip to Trump Plaza in New York. They would also win a 2007 Chrysler Aspen.
 
Those prizes, however, were in the distant future as the six players not chosen headed to the elimination challenge.
 
The final showdown dissected each players short game. From three locations ' a 20 yard pitch, a shot from deep greenside rough and a blast from a greenside bunker ' the contestants had up to four shots to hit their ball in a circle on the green. Players were awarded points for how many shots it took to hit the target. The player with the highest total was eliminated.
 
Corlisss hopes were dashed early as he took three shots on each of the first two locations to be eliminated while Kelly Murray (Reston, Va.) and Gavin Slabbert (Orange Park, Fla.) advanced.
 
In the ladies showdown, Stordahl-Utecht started fast by tallying one point with a deft pitch shot but took the maximum of five points while trying to get out of the rough., Needing only three points to advance after Vega and Annie Mallory (Las Vegas, Nev.) each suffered five point efforts in the bunker, Stordahl-Utecht couldnt get out of the hazard and was once again tagged with five points and sent packing.
 
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Karyn Stordahl-Utecht became one of the first contestants to leave the show.
You get a little more comfortable with things and then you see that youre eliminated, Corliss said. Its hard.
 
If it was easy, then Trump probably wouldnt be involved.
 
The 16 remaining contestant are still vying for the coveted tournament exemptions and other prizes. The female champion will receive an exemption into the 2007 SBS Open at Turtle Bay and the 2007 Longs Drugs Challenge, as well as waived entry fees for the 2007 Duramed FUTURES Tour season. The winning male contestant will receive exemptions into the 2007 Turtle Bay Championship and the 2007 Bank of America Championship, as well as waived entry fees in six events on the 2007 Heartland Players Senior Tour.
 
In addition, winners receive the finest tools to make the most of their appearances at some of golfs most highly anticipated tournaments. Adams Golf will present the winners with an Adams Golf endorsement contract to keep them on top of their games. Also, NetJets, the worldwide leader in private aviation, will provide five hours of flight time to each winner so they may travel with the ultimate in safety, service and reliability.
 
To keep the champions fueled and energized when they are on the road, the McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola will provide the winners with a $1,000 Arch Card to be used at McDonalds restaurants.
 
And finally, as a surprise to the contestants, the male and female champions will be joined by the eliminated contestants to compete for a chance to get into Trumps wallet! The ultimate winner of the match also will become the owner of an all new 2007 Chrysler Aspen - Chryslers first full-sized SUV.
 
Looking to Next Week
The competitors try to bring out the best in their partners as the newly formed teams go head to head in a battle for survival. Challenges include the shape a shot wall and the weak link challenge.
 
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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”