Big Break Vs Prange Enjoys Payoff

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Safeway ClassicThe payoff is here for Ashley Prange. The Golf Channels Big Break V winner will play in the LPGA Safeway Classic (TGC Fri. at 10 p.m. ET) at Portland, Ore., this weekend, and thus far she has handled it quite nicely, if not exactly calmly.
 
Actually, my nerves have been doing really well this week until this morning, she said with a silent laugh Thursday. Teeing off in the Pro Am, it took me about three holes today to settle down. So I'm hoping that that kind of gave me a little bit of a forefront of what it's going to be like tomorrow. I'm sure that my nerves are going to be absolutely just kicking. I'm going to learn to embrace them and just go at it.
 
Ashley Prange
Big Break 5: Hawaii winner Ashley Prange makes her LPGA debut Friday at the Safeway Classic.
My goals this week are just to soak it up, take it in, just truly enjoy it, and then also play my game. Because I've been playing well this year, and if I can just get in a rhythm, I'll be just fine. So I'm really looking forward to it.
 
The 24-year-old from Noblesville, Ind., plays on the Duramed Futures Tour, and she is fourth in the money standings with only three weeks remaining on the schedule. The top five get their LPGA cards for the 2007 season, so Prange is taking a chance on losing out by availing herself of this opportunity. But she says the Big Break V was such an enjoyable occasion that she wouldnt dream of not playing in this event, the big payoff for the Big Break V winner.
 
You know, the entire opportunity has been just an absolute whirlwind, and an opportunity of a lifetime, she said. It happened so long ago, so I have to kind of take myself back to it. It was two weeks, very, very, intense competition, not much sleep, and some pretty good golf.
 
But the experience has been great for me, just mostly to see what I can take away from it has been'I really learned where my weaknesses were in my game under pressure. Because it's a different type of pressure than what it is in a normal round of golf. You have one shot that could determine your life on the show, whereas when you play 18 holes, you may have'you can recover from four shots.
 
So that experience has been phenomenal, and then working with the TV crews and cameras and things of that nature have made my nerves a lot thicker and stronger. So now it's great for me. Cameras don't bother me, and seeing a lot of people doesn't bother me. So that's been very beneficial.
 
It all started for Prange in June of 2005, when Golf Channel cameras invaded the driving range at a Futures Tour event in Decatur, Ill., and solicited applications. I did my audition - several of us did, she said. I think of the 11 of us on the show, I think six of us auditioned there that day.
 
I basically heard nothing back for three months. Just kind of nothing, and then I got my first call back the second week of September, found out I was a semi-finalist. Then on my last practice round at Q-School in Palm Springs, I got the call that I was in, and I was on a plane (to Hawaii) three weeks later.
 
Prange won the competition, downing Jeanne Cho, 5-and-4, in the final the last day. The victory has brought about a reaction from the public that totally surprised Prange.
 
I never imagined that I would be as recognized as what I have been. I've been getting recognized all over the place, away from golf courses in addition to golf courses. It has brought me notoriety and some sponsorships, she said.
 
Prange was always comfortable with the format of The Big Break experience ' a reality television show.
 
I thought it would be fun, she said. Why not? Absolutely, why not?
 
It's an experience that not too many people can say they've been able to do. I had a lot of fun with it. I was true to who I was. I think that's the key to being about it is, I've learned a lot about myself on TV and the way I'm perceived, and that's been interesting. But I've enjoyed the entire process, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
 
And the experience actually has been a big plus to Pranges golf career.
 
The intensity with that I think is going to be the biggest thing that I will pull away from golf, Prange said. You had to learn how to calm your nerves very quickly. Because when you see us hit a shot, it is still very much a TV production. There's time and there's gap in between shots, in between people who are hitting. You may have warmed up an hour before you actually got to hit your first shot.
 
So you have to learn how to perform on cue - which I think is key to playing great golf coming down the stretch, especially in important events. So that's been extremely beneficial to me this year.
 
Being The Big Break V winner has been a huge boost to Prange. In addition to winning the show, she believes it has been beneficial to her golf game.

I think it has aided the process ' No. 1, financially. It has just taken that burden completely off, which I'd be lying to say that it probably didn't have an effect, because it probably did.
 
But it's a secondary effect that I just don't even think about anymore. So it's nice. But I think the entire show and learning how to be around cameras and the media and everything, that's been extremely beneficial for me as well.
 
One of the by-products of winning is that her travel expenses this year on the Duramed Futures Tour are covered by The Golf Channel. And the Duramed corporation this week has given Prange a golf bag and clothes.

The largesse has been a big relief to Prange, who has had a huge weight lifted off her shoulders in having one less thing ' expenses ' to worry about.
 
We're very similar to minor league baseball, she explained. We have long hours of travel, we don't get paid nearly as well. But it's a stepping stone. It's a process that you need to go to get to the next level, and I'm a firm believer in it.
 
I think the Futures Tour is great for building the game and building the maturity to play well in the LPGA. I think it's a direct replication of how many Futures Tour alumni are on the LPGA today.

The Golf Channel will televise the Safeway Classic starting at 10 p.m. ET Friday.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''