Johnston and Rockett Eliminated From The Big BreaK VI

By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
At least Sarah Lynn Johnston (Williamston S.C.) could finally enjoy a meal. Thats a consolation for the Furman University alum as both she and Rocky Rockett (Gastonia, N.C.) were eliminated in the fourth episode of The Big Break VI: Trump National.
 
After losing in a one-hole elimination match, Johnston commented that she hadnt been able to eat for four days without drinking Pepto Bismol. Welcome - or goodbye in the eliminated duos case - to Donald Trumps pressure cooker by the shores of the Pacific Ocean where the remaining contestants will vie for The Big Break VI title while Johnstons in the buffet line.
 
Its over. Thats life and golf, Rockett said after being eliminated. Ive played golf all my life in all types of tournaments and for all types of money. This is more difficult than anything I have done.
 
The shows 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.
The male and female left standing will be crowned Big Break VI: Trump National winners.
 
With the players divided into two female and two male teams of three people each, the episode was a smorgasbord of emotions at Trump National: Los Angeles.
 
The show featured a three-tier Immunity Challenge in which the male and female teams with the lowest point total would play in an Elimination Challenge. The six competitors from the two losing teams competed as individuals with the men playing the men and women facing women.
 
Johnstons and Rocketts exit took different paths. After the first two tiers of the Immunity Challenge, her team had a commanding lead with two points while his side was shut out.
 
The final portion of the challenge demonstrated how fast things can turn on The Big Break VI. In three head-to-head matches, one member from each team hit from a location ' 160 yards in the fairway, 85-yard sidehill lie in light rough, and 45-yard bunker shot ' with the individuals ball closest to the pin the winner. Each location was worth one point.
 
Johnston and her teammates, Laura London (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Rachel Bailey (Faulconbridge, NSW, Australia), needed to win only one head-to-match to advance. With immunity on the line, Bri Vega (North Andover, Mass.) defeated Bailey followed by Bridget Dwyer (Kailua, Hawaii) beating London to even up the competition.
 
In the deciding match, after Ashley Gomes (Pleasanton, Calif.) blasted her ball 56 1 from the hole while Johnston hit her shot heavy and didnt reach the green forcing her team to the Elimination Challenge.
 
I was so angry, was Johnstons summation of the turn of events.
 
Meanwhile, Rockett lost to Kelly Murray (Reston, Va.) at the second location to spare any frustration of a heartbreaking loss.
 
The Elimination Challenge was one hole of match play on the par 4 opening hole at Trump National. Playing first, each of the three men found the fairway with their tee shots. Both Albert Crews (Homer, La.) and Gary Ostrega (Westfield, N.J.) hit the green, while Rocketts hit his 57-yard wedge shot just off the back of the green.
After a pitch, he had 6-foot par putt to stave off elimination. Crews had already made a 7 footer for par and Ostrega was inches away from matching the score.
 
This is what its all about, Crews said of his putt. You just get up there and do what you got to do or go home.
 
Rockett didnt get it done as his attempt to match his former teammates slid by the right side of the hole.
 
Its what I know to do and what I enjoy doing. Ive had more success than failures, said Rockett. You learn to live with the bad days for all the good ones.
 
Johnston continued her forgettable day by compounding a mistake in the Immunity Challenge with a double bogey in the Elimination Challenge. Her approach shot from the fairway found the back rough of the green and eventually led to a missed 8-foot putt that could have extended the competition.
 
Bailey said it was emotional watching one of her good friends leave. Johnston felt the same about departing.
 
Things didnt turn out like I wanted them to turn out, but I gave it my all, said Johnston, who like Rockett faced elimination for the third consecutive show. I will succeed in anything I do and life will work out for me. Luckily, I got the chance to be on The Big Break VI.
 
Thats the way it goes in a competition where a stray shot and a missed putt leads to a heartfelt bon voyage, or in Johnstons case, bon appetit.
 
The 10 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 will 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.

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.