bContestants Named for Next Ladies-Only Big Break Series on The Golf Channelb
The world-renowned surf and tropical beauty of Oahus North Shore will provide the setting for The Big Break V: Hawaii, premiering Feb. 7, where 11 ladies will vie for a chance to revitalize their golfing careers and be awarded the opportunity to play big-time professional golf against the worlds best on the LPGA Tour.
A new twist with The Big Breaks second ladies-only series will be that ' in the first episode ' 11 golfers arriving in Hawaii will find out that they all have to play their way onto the show, as one will be sent home before having a chance to unpack her bags.
The candidates will include:
Jeanne Cho, 23, Orlando, Fla.
Although of South Korean heritage, Cho was born and raised in France and speaks four languages. She emigrated to the United States at age 13 to pursue golf and is a product of the David Leadbetter Golf Academies and the University of Florida golf program, where she graduated, cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average in Quantitative Sciences. Currently competing on the FUTURES Tour, Cho will be among the 144 hopefuls who will be competing at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30.
Nicolle DiSanto, 27 Los Angeles, Calif.
A qualifier in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship at 295 yards, DiSanto claims to hit her 7-wood ' and even her 3-iron ' longer than most women hit their drivers. A fairly late-bloomer in competitive golf, she played college golf for the last two years and was captain of her golf team at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif. Currently, she teaches kids and models part time when not playing golf, herself.
Divina Delasin, 24, San Francisco, Calif.
Having delayed her dreams of playing professional golf to help support family finances and the fledgling career of her sister, Dorothy (who currently plays on the LPGA Tour), Delasin dropped out of high school and, at one time, held three jobs. This self-professed work-aholic eventually returned to school and college golf to chase her dream, but several failed attempts at the LPGA Qualifying Tournament had her back in the work force again. Currently, she is in the PGA program and works as an assistant golf professional and as a coach for the First Tee of San Francisco.
Jo D. Duncan, 39, St. Louis, Mo.
The oldest of The Big Break V contestants, Duncan nurtured her golf talents ' not at the local country club, but at the local 9-hole course where people played in cut-off jeans and tank tops. She earned a four-year scholarship to play golf for Missouri State University (then called Southwest Missouri State University) and has competed on the FUTURES Tour and in several LPGA Tour events. Currently, Duncan is a teaching professional and is a member of the Long Drivers of America, having competed for three years in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.
Julie Wells, 25, Portland, Ore.
As a high school golfer in Eugene, Ore., Wells earned recognition as both the states Athlete of the Year and Golfer of the Year. She left Oregon to play college golf for the University of Idaho, where ' during her junior season ' her team won the Big West Conference title and she was named Player of the Year. Wells turned pro a month before graduation to prepare for the FUTURES Tour and twice entered the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, without success. Currently, she works at the Oregon Golf Club, where she also practices tirelessly on her game.
Dana Lacey, 23, North Beach, Australia
After attaining success in her native country as an amateur ' having won the Australia Junior Championships, two victories on the Australian Tour, and being named to both the Australian Spirit Cup team and the Queen Sirikit Cup ' Lacey decided to head to the United States, turn professional and further test her skills on the FUTURES Tour. In 2005 ' her second year on tour ' she finished 23rd on the money list and has set a goal to finish in the top-5 in 2006.
Kim Lewellen, 34, Wake Forest, N.C.
Having grown up in Raleigh, N.C., Lewellen is a Carolina girl at heart, but has experienced an entire world of golf. A mother of two and the wife of an Episcopal minister, she played golf for the University of North Carolina (where she was a Division I First Team All-American), competed on the Ladies European Tour and the FUTURES Tour, coached the mens and womens golf teams at The Citadel, and served as a club teaching professional.
Becky Lucidi, 25, Poway, Calif.
Having just completed her first year on the FUTURES Tour, Lucidis golfing credentials include some heavy hardware, including the 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur Championship title and the 2003 NCAA national championship while at the University of Southern California. She also won the Mexican Amateur five months removed from winning the U.S. title.
Ashley Prange, 24, Noblesville, Ind.
In her first year on the FUTURES Tour in 2005, Prange finished 46th on the money list and made 15 of 18 cuts, with two top 10s. Coming from a golfing family ' her father and three of her uncles are teaching professionals ' Prange was a semi-finalist at the 2003 Womens Western Amateur Championship. She played golf for the University of North Carolina, where she was named First Team All-American during her senior year. She will be among the 144 hopefuls who will be competing at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30.
Kristina Tucker, 25, Stockholm, Sweden
Tucker came to the United States in 1999 to attend Duke University and further her career in golf. Having played against the best Swedish amateurs ' winning the Swedish Girls Championship in consecutive years ' and earning a place on the Swedish National Team (2001 European Champions), she was eager to test herself against the best in the U.S. and pursue any opportunities that might lead the way to the LPGA Tour. She won three collegiate tournaments while attending Duke and, after graduation, returned to the Telia Tour in Sweden, where her play over the years included one victory and three, top-5 finishes. 2005 is her second year on the FUTURES Tour, and she has advanced to compete at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament beginning Nov. 30. She now resides in Pageland, S.C.
Katie Ruhe, 24, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
A native of Montpelier, Ohio, Ruhe was an AJGA All-American, as well as an AJGA Compac Scholastic All-American selection in 1999. She was a two-time Conference USA 2nd Team selection while playing golf at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she currently resides and works part time at the TPC of Tampa Bay. She joined the FUTURES Tour in 2004 and improved her scoring average by four strokes in 2005.
The candidates were selected from more than 4,000 hopeful golfers who applied via the networks Web site, www.thegolfchannel.com. Auditions for those that met qualifications were held across the country where the ladies not only had to impress the producers with their character and personality, but had to demonstrate their golf skills, on command, in front of Golf Channel cameras.
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. One golfer is eliminated from the series each week, with the last golfer standing awarded his/her Big Break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in select professional tour events with some of the best golfers in the world.
Reprising its partnership role for the ladies version will be Anheuser-Busch Inc. and its Michelob ULTRA brand. Other major partners include Bridgestone Golf, Golfsmith, 7-Eleven and Chrysler Corp.
The first Big Break series featuring ladies only, The Big Break III: Ladies Only, was hugely popular for The Golf Channel and became a major hit. The Big Break III winner, Danielle Amiee, garnered national attention during the two LPGA Tour stops to which she earned exemptions by winning the show.
The two championship golf courses of Turtle Bay Resort will serve as the arena for The Big Break V: Hawaii challenges. The Arnold Palmer Course, designed by golfs living legend and co-founder of The Golf Channel, is the site of the Champions Tours Turtle Bay Championship, while the George Fazio course has hosted the LPGA Tours SBS Open at Turtle Bay. The Fazio course also was the site of the first Senior Skins game, which featured Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Sam Sneed and Gary Player.
For more information, contact The Golf Channel Public Relations Department, 407/345-4653
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”