Big Break X Michigan features team format

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' 'Big Break X: Michigan' will feature a Big Break series-first team format in its 10th season that will test each duos game as much as their relationship.
 
GOLF CHANNELs 11-week series promises new excitement as eight two-person teams comprised of a male and female will face some of the most grueling competition in series history, in which they could win a lifelong dream at the risk of losing a lifelong friendship.
 
Scheduled to premiere Oct. 7, 'Big Break X: Michigan' will feature new skills challenges to test every phase of the competitors game. Teams will be comprised of individuals boasting amateur and professional tour accolades, and whose connections range from married or dating to friends or ex-significant others. The winning pair will earn a PGA TOUR tournament exemption for the male and an LPGA tournament exemption for the female.
 
The eight teams competing in 'Big Break X: Michigan' are:
 
Haymes Snedeker (Fairhope, Ala.) and Bernadette Bernie Luse (Naples, Fla.): Snedeker, whose brother Brandt was the 2007 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, and Luse, a former LPGA player, met at the University of Mississippi when he was an assistant coach and she was a player on the womens team. Snedeker is a judge in Alabama and competes in amateur events while Luse looks to 'Big Break X: Michigan' as a return to competitive golf.
 
James Vargas (Miami) and Andrea VanderLende (Longwood, Fla.): 'Big Break X: Michigan' is going to put relationships to the test and one that could produce fireworks is Hooters Tour member Vargas and Duramed FUTURES Tour player VanderLende. The two former University of Florida golfers dated as teens and have since developed a brother/sister relationship that, like siblings, is sometimes volatile but always caring.
 
Sally Dee (Tampa, Fla.) and David Mobley (Huntersville, N.C..): Its bombs away when Dee and Mobley get to the tee box. The two met on the Long Drive circuit in 2003 when she was just starting out and he had already established himself on the circuit. Mobley saw that Dee, a former LPGA player, had an actual golf swing and liked that he had that in common with her. A year later, each won their respective divisions in the Re/Max Long Drive Championship.
 
Amber Prange (Noblesville, Ind.) and Robby Shaw (Louisville, Ky.): Prange, a current Duramed FUTURES Tour player, and Shaw look more like models on the cover of a golf fashion magazine than serious and talented golfers. Their smiles, though, hide past hardships of death and misconceptions that made each question if they wanted to play golf anymore. Now, with the passion refueled, together 'Big Break X: Michigan' gives them the opportunity to grow both their relationship and careers.
 
Hugo Leon (Jupiter, Fla.) and Camila Mori (Miami): Leon and Mori have come a long way to find their Big Break. Both were born and raised in Santiago, Chile, where they started playing golf at the age of 10. At 12, they joined the national junior golf team and began competing all over the world. Throughout their amateur careers they became best friends, and planned to attend the same college in America. While the plan didnt work out that way, still they both went to school and graduated ' Leon in 2007 from Southwestern Louisiana University and Mori earlier this year from the University of South Carolina ' and are starting their journey in professional golf together.
 
Casey and Rachel Lubahn (Lansing Mich.): 'Big Break X: Michigan' is a home game of sorts for Casey and Rachel Lubahn. The only married couple on the series, they each played golf at Michigan State University, where he is currently the assistant golf coach. She also has pursued a career in golf and is now a teaching professional at Forrest Akers Golf Club, as well as the Program Director for First Tee of Mid-Michigan.
 
Sherri McDonald (Lambertville, N.J.) and Michael Michaelides (East Elmhurst, N.Y.): McDonald and Michaelides relationship can best be described as one part allies, one part rivals, but always great friends. Coaching at competing schools, the two have very strong personalities and feed off of each others enthusiasm and love for the game. Each played on professional tours until losing their sponsorship due to economic downturn following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
 
Rachel Melendez (Atlanta) and Otis Smith (Stone Mountain, Ga.): Rachel Melendez and Otis Smith are co-workers at the Charlie Yates Golf Course, located at the legendary East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where Melendez is an instructor for the First Tee program and Smith serves as a PGA Professional. Both love teaching and call the students our kids, but are looking to 'Big Break X: Michigan' as a springboard to playing professionally.
 
For its 10th season anniversary, 'Big Break X: Michigan' returns to the destination where it all began ' northern Michigan. Known as Americas Summer Golf Capital, some of the nations most distinguished golf courses exist in this region and incorporate unique features like dense forests, shifting sand dunes and the longest fresh-water coastline in North America.
 
'Big Break X: Michigan' was shot at Boyne Highlands Resort, a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions, located in Harbor Springs. The resort lures golfers with 72 holes of championship golf led by the classic Heather golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and rivaled by the modern classic Arthur Hills, as well as The Moor, and Donald Ross Memorial.
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After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

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Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

“I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

“I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

“I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

“It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

“[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

“He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

“I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

“For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”