Future stars: 'Big Break Greenbrier' cast released

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 13, 2012, 3:58 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The cast for “Big Break Greenbrier” was released Monday, and it features 12 men looking to find their next step on the way to playing on the PGA Tour. The series, shot and produced at the Greenbrier in W. Va., premieres Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET.

The contestants are:

Ray Beaufils (25, Phoenix/Australia): A former Rugby player who had a decorated amateur golf career in Australia, Beaufils has battled injuries and a burn out after moving to the U.S. After taking six months away from the game, he renewed his passion after playing a weekend round of golf with friends. He turned professional in 2009, won the first two professional events entered and, ultimately, earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2010 before a knee injury sidelined his career.  Fully recovered, Beaufils is competing on the Gateway Tour, where he is a two-time winner and has several top-10 finishes in 2012.

Derek Bohlen (27, Fountain Hills, Ariz.): Following a successful college golf career at Northern Iowa, Bohlen put his dreams to compete professionally on hold for an office job. After seeing the success of fellow Iowan Zach Johnson and having to constantly answer the question about why he gave up on golf, Bohlen switched careers and moved with his wife to Arizona in 2009 to pursue his dream. Bohlen is competing on the NGA Pro Series Tour.


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Anthony Casalino (32, Yonkers, N.Y.): A PGA of America apprentice at Willow Ridge Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., Casalino is relying on his experience as a PGA of America professional to kick-start his tournament career on “Big Break Greenbrier.” Casalino, who turned his life around and focused on golf after filing for bankruptcy in 2005, recorded a best finish T-7 in the Callaway Golf PGA Assistant Championship in 2011 and qualified to compete in the 2012 Met Open in New York.

Rick Cochran (25, Paducah, Ky.): Nephew of Champions Tour veteran Russ Cochran, Rick is currently competing on the NGA Pro Series Tour, where he has recorded several top-10 finishes and one win in 2012. Rick is looking to follow in his famous uncle’s footsteps.

Brian Cooper (45, Phoenix/ Pittsburgh): The oldest competitor on the series, Cooper has amassed more than 30 professional victories on various professional golf tours worldwide. A two-sport athlete in college – hockey and baseball – Cooper switched to golf full-time after college, and is playing full-time on the Gateway Tour.

Liam Friedman (25, Lackawanna, N.Y.): One of two PGA of America pros competing on the series, Friedman is an assistant pro at Orchard Park Country Club in Lackawanna, N.Y. He captured the 2011 Western New York PGA Championship and competed in the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship earlier this summer. A member of the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championship golf team at Methodist, Friedman also is competing on the Golfslinger.com Tour.

Stu Gold (26, West Haven, Utah): Gold’s journey is an inspirational story of defeating personal demons and dramatically turning his life around. Once addicted to painkillers, Gold’s goal is to make it to golf’s biggest stage and share his story with others. Gold, who has been clean for more than two years, also is a new father and husband. He wants be an inspiration to family and friends who have supported him through his battles.

James Lepp (28, Abbotsford, British Columbia): A two-time winner on the Canadian Tour and a four-time All-American from the University of Washington, Lepp is returning to competitive golf in 2012 after burning out on the game and switching to the business side of golf, when he founded Kikkor Golf, a golf shoe apparel company.

Isaac Sanchez (33, Folsom, Calif.): Sanchez has overcome enormous odds in his career off the golf course. He was diagnosed with gigantism at an early age and, subsequently, had a tumor removed from his brain when he was in high school. After being surrounded by children with terminal illnesses while in the hospital, he changed his perspective on life.

Mark Silvers (25, Savannah, Ga.): Silvers competed in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, accumulated more than 15 wins on various mini tours in 2011, and has eight top-10 finishes and one win on the NGA Pro Series Tour in 2012.  He is competing on Big Break with a heavy heart, as his father – who introduced him to the game at a young age – passed away just prior to the filming of the series.

Chan Song (29, Cartersville, Ga.): Older brother to Naree and Aree Song, Chan is giving competitive golf one final push in 2012 after a wrist injury sidelined his career, and he switched to the business side of golf. A three-time All-American at Georgia Tech and one of the top ranked junior golfers in the U.S., Song is looking to follow in his sisters’ footsteps. Song is competing on the mini-tour circuit and the Canadian Tour.

Michael Tobiason (28, Wilmington, Del.): A two-sport athlete (basketball and golf) in college at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington and carding 23 collegiate golf wins, Tobiason is one of two competitors who played in a U.S. Open – the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club. Playing on the Moonlight Golf Tour, Tobiason teaches golf at Applecross Country Club in Wilmington to supplement his income.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''