Former 'Big Break' competitors Trudeau, Blackwelder engaged

By Jason SobelSeptember 4, 2013, 8:07 pm

Upon first glance, Julien Trudeau and Mallory Blackwelder are one of “those” couples.

Yep, they met on a reality television show.

This wasn’t one of those reality shows devoted to people finding their one true love, though. One of those which creates romance in hour-long increments with the tedious scenes left on the cutting room floor to help ratings.

They met on “Big Break Ireland,” the 2011 edition of the long-running Golf Channel series which affords aspiring professional golfers the opportunity to compete in a big-time environment.

If Tommy Gainey, the first “Big Break” alum to win a PGA Tour event, remains the show’s ultimate success story, then Trudeau and Blackwelder are its greatest feel-good tale.

Photos: Cast of 'Big Break Ireland'

A couple of weeks after the show finished filming, Trudeau, who finished runner-up on the finale, offered to caddie for Blackwelder at a few events. The player-caddie relationship blossomed into something more that summer. Two years later, with Trudeau firmly entrenched as the caddie for Graham DeLaet on the PGA Tour and Blackwelder pursuing her LPGA dreams on developmental tours, they remain together.

And just last week, they got engaged to be married.

Yep, just another reality show couple … OK, maybe not.

“I don’t say it’s a reality show,” she says with a laugh. “I say it’s a golf competition show, just so they don’t get the wrong idea.”

He agrees, explaining, “This wasn’t ‘The Bachelor.’ I was going there to win 50 grand. I needed to win to keep my career going.”

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, either.

“We’re going to Ireland,” Blackwelder recalls. “He comes into the airport and he looks completely hungover. He had the hood of his hoodie up over his head. My first thought was this guy’s a weirdo.”

“We weren’t there to try to find a significant other. I was there to play golf. It wasn’t like I looked at him and thought, he’s the one.”

In fact, if fate hadn’t intervened during the show, they might never have found out.

Trudeau and Blackwelder were on different teams, meaning that once on-course filming ended each day, they would retreat to separate houses where they stayed with teammates.

“If one of us had gotten eliminated early, we wouldn’t be together,” he says. “Everything worked out so well. We got to know each other and it just kind of kept building from there.”

They will now build a marriage into their hectic schedules. Last week, on the morning after DeLaet claimed a career-best share of second place at The Barclays, Trudeau proposed in a New York City hotel room over Starbucks coffee.

Trudeau BlackwelderJust a few hours later, he was dropping her off at the airport, another flight leading to another golf tournament.

“It’s been hard,” Blackwelder says. “He’s in the middle of a 13-week stretch. He caddies for me on his off weeks, then I go to travel with him on my off weeks from playing.”

Indeed, with the PGA Tour on a bye, Trudeau is looping for his fiancée at the Colorado Women’s Open this week – pro bono, of course.

It may sound like a whirlwind life, but it’s one to which Blackwelder has long been accustomed.

Her father, Worth, met her mother, Myra, at LPGA Q-School in the late-1970s when she was attempting to get her card and he was caddying. Myra became the Rookie of the Year in 1980 en route to a lengthy career; Worth caddied for the likes of Patty Sheehan, Juli Inkster and Dottie Pepper, and remains on the bag of Cristie Kerr these days. Even her brother, Myles, got into the family business, currently caddying for Jodi Ewart-Shadoff.

“I’ve seen how my parents made it work. My family has always been crazy and in all different directions, so I’m used to that,” Mallory explains. “The fact that I am following in my parents footsteps is pretty funny. I joke around with them, like, ‘Why did you let me do this?’ But no, it’s good. It’s a unique story. There aren’t too many families as into pro golf as we are.”

In a relationship that was born on a show which helps launch competitive golf careers, it helps that both Trudeau and Blackwelder understand the struggles of having non-traditional jobs.

“It’s hard, but we both get it,” he says. “We both understand how it works. We try to see each other as much as possible. When I get off the course, she’s the first person I talk to. She’s my best friend.”

He then pauses for a few seconds, considers having a wedding around their hectic schedules and readily admits, “Now the biggest challenge is trying to find a date where everyone isn’t working.”

Followed by a honeymoon – or as they may call it, a “Big Break.”

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.