Rough Start For Big Break II Winner

By Kip HenleyMarch 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: Big Break II winner Kip Henley III will share his thoughts as he takes advantage of Nationwide Tour exemptions awarded by The Golf Channel.
Big Break II Aftermath
What an unbelievable ride! Winning The Big Break II was truly a life changing experience. I way underestimated the power of the show. It is still weird for me to be recognized out of my home state.
Practicing and playing in cities like La Quinta, Pinehurst, and Hilton Head where golf is huge, people come up to me no matter where I go. I can not imagine growing tired of strangers approaching me, but if that ever changes I could let my hair grow back to its normal color and stop most of it.
If things work out with my 'Big Break' it will only increase all of this which is fine by me.
My intentions are to parlay the four exemptions into the start of my career on the Nationwide Tour and use it as a stepping stone to make it to the PGA Tour. One day I plan to be the oldest dude to win The Masters. I heard you giggle but I am not joking.
I have been fortunate enough to receive two more Nationwide exemptions, three NGA Hooters Tour exemptions and even a special invitation from Peter Jacobsen to the CVS Celebrity Pro-Am later in the year. Not sure if Peter was just trying to make me feel great like he seems to do with everyone around him but he was so complimentary of how I did on the show. He is portrayed as a great guy on television because that is exactly what he is.
I'm practicing non-stop to prepare as much as I can for these opportunities and hope to be on top of my game when the flag goes up.
I would like to take this time to thank each and every member of the Golf Channel's Big Break team for all they did before, during and since the ending of the Big Break II, they are truly special people. To all my family, friends and supporters thanks for being there and cheer hard for me come summer.
Thanks for eveyone who pulled for me and all the calls and e-mails have been inspiring.
My First Hooters Event
I got into Flowery Branch last Sunday to prepare for my first Hooters event. It wasn't a very good week weather-wise, Thursdays round was washed out (which shortened it to a 54-hole event with a full field) but we were able to start our first round Friday after a two hour frost delay.
I shot even par with a poor ball striking day. Went to the range and found a couple things and was looking forward to Saturday. I didn't start my second round until 4:10 p.m. and was only able to finish nine holes and hit my tee ball on ten before play was halted due to darkness. At this point I stood 1-under-par for the tournament.
I left and went to eat with my family and caddies family and after eating 'pasta' with sausage I began throwing up around 1:30 a.m. I don't know if it was food related or a bug but I finished throwing up at 6:30a.m. and was able to stand up without throwing up at 7:00 a.m. I took a shower and got to the course at 7:45 and teed off without any practice balls or putts at 8:00 a.m. feeling if I could just finish my round I knew I would at least get a check and hoping with a break between my final round I would feel better.
Through my first seven holes I felt terrible but I wasn't throwing up but my last two holes I got weak fast. I had two bogeys and a double on my last nine holes and still made the cut by two. I couldn't even add up my score from feeling disoriented. I laid down in my car thinking it would pass and waited to see how long I had until the last 18 started. I had about an hour and 45 minutes to get better and all I did was get worse.
If I could have played one hole for a million dollars I couldn't have done it. I didn't even get out of my car, never hit a shot on the final 18. I started feeling better about midnight Sunday and Monday left for Auburn. I wasn't signed up for this next week but my girls had spring break and here I am in Auburn preparing for this next Hooters event with my girls by my side.
I feel positive about this first start although I am extremely disappointed about how things worked out. But there's always a reason for everything so I'll wait and see what this was for....thanks for all the support and the emails....Kipper
Related Links:
  • Henley Adds Invites to Exemptions
  • Big Break II Home
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

    Getty Images

    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

    Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.