Contestants Named for Big Break VI Trump National

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Big Break VI: Trump National, scheduled to premiere on Sept. 26, will boast the largest and most diverse mix of contestants in the history of the series. The field, which was announced today, consists of nine females and nine males who will compete with and against each other in an attempt to make their dreams reality. It will be the first time the two sexes have competed together in The Golf Channels popular reality series.
 
Adding to the intrigue will be Americas most-celebrated real estate tycoon-turned-TV star, Donald Trump, who will welcome the cast to his famous Los Angeles golf course and make appearances throughout the series, putting his personal stamp on the competition.
 
In addition to other prizes, winners will be given the opportunity to compete with some of the best golfers in the world, with the male champion receiving sponsors invitations to play in official events on the PGA TOURs Champions Tour and the female champion invited to play in LPGA Tour events. The competitors include:
 
Female Contestants:
 
Rachel Bailey, 25, Fowlconbridge, NSW, Australia
Outgoing Aussie looks to make good
A year ago, she nearly quit golf when the pressure of playing the Duramed FUTURES Tour became an endless grind. However, after a week of soul searching, the fun-loving Aussie realized that golf provided her the opportunity to realize dreams that others from her small southeastern Australian town never could imagine. Always an athlete, her dad introduced her to golf at age 10. At New Mexico State, she won the Sun Belt Conference championship.
 
Bridget Dwyer, 25, Kailua, Hawaii
Act like a champion
A native of Hawaii, Dwyer exudes the natural cool persona of the 50th state. Currently on the Duramed FUTURES Tour, she was a three-time National Golf Coaches Association All-Scholar selection and was voted Most Inspirational Athlete at UCLA in 2004. In high school, Dwyer relished playing on the boys golf team and eventually earned a golf scholarship to UCLA. A focused and driven individual she strives to live her motto act like a champion at all times.
 
Ashley Gomes, 23, Pleasanton, Calif.
Fun loving, laid back California girl with a passion for life and golf
Playing golf from an early age, Gomes participated in junior golf at a high level, competing against the likes of LPGA Tour stars Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis. In high school, she played on the boys team even after the school formed a girls squad. At San Jose State, she claimed individual honors in the 2004 Western Athletic Conference championship.
 
Sarah Johnston, 24, St. Charles, Ill.
Loves to laugh but packs a punch
Johnstons dad, and her current caddie, was a successful PGA TOUR professional who finished second at the 1971 U.S. Open and 15th in the 1974 Masters. Although she won her first tournament at age 4, Johnson is a self-professed late bloomer who eventually earned All-American honors at Furman University. Currently playing the Duramed FUTURES Tour, Johnston is one of the longest hitters, averaging 270 yards off the tee.
 
Laura London, 25, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Transformed from a rink rat to a range rat
Londons first love was figure skating but she burned out on the sport. She then attempted to play hockey but a broken ankle put an end to that venture. The first step in her golf journey was going from a rink rat to a range rat when her family moved to a house on a golf course. London turned professional directly out of high school after spurning a scholarship offer from Arizona State. She played the Duramed FUTURES Tour from 1999-2001 and wants to compete once again.
 
Annie Mallory, 23, Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada
I want the world to know that women can hit it with the men!
Hailing from a small town in Atlantic Canada, Mallory sees herself as an outsider and an underdog in the golf world. Her introduction to golf came out of a need to compete and beat her sister. Annie currently plays on the Cactus Tour. Mallorys greatest triumph thus far is her golf scholarship to University of Texas-El Paso.
 
Kristy McPherson, 24, Conway, S.C.
Overcame adversity to have a bright future in golf
At age 11, McPherson was diagnosed with a severe arthritic condition and was unable to walk for an entire year. A winner on the Duramed FUTURES Tour this year, McPherson enjoyed a stellar career at the University of South Carolina. While at USC, she recorded seven wins in collegiate events, was named a three-time NCAA All-American and was the individual winner of the SEC Championships in 2001 and 2002. In addition, she was named the 2002 Honda Inspirational Athlete of the Year and 2002 NCAA South Carolina Woman of the Year.
 
Karyn Stordahl-Utecht, 25, Prior Lake, Minn.
I love breaking the mold!
Crowned Miss Minnesota in 2005, Stordahl-Utecht is much more than a pretty face. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Magna Cum Laude while competing on the golf team. Winning the Lady Razorback Invitational as a junior at the University of Minnesota was a landmark event in her golf game. Due to obligations connected with Miss Minnesota, Stordahl-Utecht played little competitive golf in 2005-2006. A week after taping The Big Break VI, she will marry her college sweetheart, Indianapolis Colts tight end Ben Utecht.
 
Briana Vega, 23, North Andover, Mass.
Exhibits talent beyond her years
Vegas passion and talent earned her a golf scholarship to North Carolina State University, where she holds the 18- and 54-hole scoring records. In 2004, she won the Massachusetts Amateur and qualified to play in the U.S. Womens Open. Vega is toiling on the FUTURES Tour where she is working to improve her game.
 
Male Contestants:
 
Sid Corliss, 56, Cumming, Ga.
A quick wit to go with a smooth style
Currently ranked 30th on the Sun Belt Tour, Corliss highlight in golf was playing in the 2001 U.S. Senior Open with his brother on the bag. Teetering on the cut line, he birdied two out of the last four holes to make the cut. He also played in four Senior British Opens and four Champions Tour events. His dream is to win a Champions Tour event with his brother - who recently recovered from stage four throat cancer - caddying for him.
 
Albert Crews, 54, Homer, La.
The quintessential underdog poised for the biggest break of his life
The first thing you notice on the golf course is Crews awkward cross-handed grip and unorthodox swing he learned as a kid swinging for fun. Growing up in Louisiana, he started caddying when he was 9-years-old. He played football in high school and didnt play golf regularly until he was 25. Currently a concrete mason, Crews struggled to make his way in mini tour events, riding Greyhound buses between stops. In 2005, he qualified for the U.S. Senior Open.
 
Charlie Gibson, 52 , Windsor, Calif.
This is my last chance to compete with the best in the world.
Gibson experienced great success in adolescence and earned a golf scholarship to Arizona State where he captured All-American honors along with PGA TOUR winners Craig Stadler, Curtis Strange, Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen. He went to the PGA TOURs Qualifying Tournament nine times before playing on TOUR for four years. In ensuing years, he played on the Asian Tour, the European Tour and the Nationwide Tour. Gibson is currently a golf course and restaurant manager.

Denny Hepler, 50, Warsaw, Ind.
Im capable of winning anytime I tee it up!
A seasoned veteran, Hepler has strong credentials. He played the PGA TOUR for two years and recorded two top-25 finishes. While chasing the golf dream, he pursued his golf career with the late Payne Stewart. His highest moment was wining the Malaysian Open on the Asian Tour. After his TOUR career ended, Hepler returned to Indiana to teach golf. For all of his accomplishments, he was named to the Indiana Golf Foundation Hall of Fame.
 
Jeff Mitchell, 51, Frisco, Texas
PGA TOUR winner back in action
Mitchell is the only PGA TOUR winner in The Big Break VI. In 1980, he won the Phoenix Open and finished 37th on the TOURs money list. That same year he tied Seve Ballesteros for the first round lead in The Masters. His career was cut short due to a severe elbow injury. After leaving the TOUR, he became the golf coach at Texas Tech and Stanford. In an ironic twist, he coached against some of the women on The Big Break VI.
 
Kelly Murray, 49, Reston, Va.
Big Break loves the long ball
The key to Murrays game is massive drives. One of his blasts registered at 684.8 yards and earned a spot in Guiness Book of World Records for the longest recorded drive. The drive occurred on a 100-foot wide airstrip. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, his resume also includes two victories on the Canadian Tour (1982, 1984) and shares the circuits record for lowest score in one round, 60. The last few years he has spent most of his time teaching golf.
 
Gary Ostrega, 52, Westfield, N.J.
Life, like golf, is all about timing.
Growing up on the southside of Chicago, Ostrega played a variety of sports until focusing on golf. His desire to succeed in golf came to a head when he was 15 and lost to a group of privileged kids. A year and half later he beat those kids to win the Illinois high school state championship. At Illinois St., he captained a team that included longtime PGA TOUR pro D.A. Weibring and earned All-American honors. A TOUR member from 1977-79, he became a teacher after losing his playing privileges.
 
Rocky Rockett, 54, Gastonia, N.C.
I started out playing high stakes matches just to pay my bills.
Rockett is the Sun Belt Senior Tours all-time leading money winner and has won a record 38 events over the last eight years. He started playing golf when he was 5-years-old on the course that his father operated. His talent earned him a golf scholarship to East Carolina University but was forced to drop out when his father became ill. He later played on the PGA TOUR with little success.
 
Gavin Slabbert, 51, Orange Park, Fla.
Trying to make up for lost time
Perhaps no one grew up farther from big time golf than Slabbert, who was born and raised in the outpost of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He first played golf at the age of 4 and won a junior tournament two years later. After quitting golf for 25 years, he played one round of golf and claims to have shot 65 to get hooked on the game again. During his absence from the game he moved to California and was a computer engineer. Currently Slabbert plays on the Heartland Tour.
 
The Big Break show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness. During The Big Break VI: Trump National, two golfers ' one man and one woman ' will be eliminated from the series each episode, with the last man and woman players standing awarded their Big Break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in Champion Tour and LPGA Tour events, respectively, with some of the best golfers in the world.
 
The weekly drama will unfold on one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula just 30 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles. Every hole is a sight to behold ' with most perched just above the jagged California cliffs ' and as the most expensive golf course ever built, the 18-hole layout offers a challenge to experienced and novice golfers, alike.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.