Surprises Keep on Coming as Finals Set

By Mark MitchellDecember 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
Big Break: MesquiteThe upsets continue on Big Break: Mesquite as Hiroshi Matsuo was eliminated from the series in an episode-long Elimination Challenge against Brian Kontak and Josh Warthen.
In a nine-hole, stroke-play contest for the right to advance to the shows finale, Matsuo recorded an even-par 35 on the front side of the Palmer Course at the Oasis Golf Club in Mesquite. Nev. to force a playoff with Warthen. On the first extra hole, Matsuo was sent home from the series after making par on the par-5 eighth hole while Warthen posted birdie.
Kontak cruised into the finale with a 3-under 32 that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He will face Warthen in the series finale with the winner earning the coveted exemption to play in the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic on the PGA TOUR.
Matsuo was the latest victim in a series filled with surprises. In the second show, Matt Every, one of the initial favorites to win Big Break: Mesquite, suffered a 10-point loss to plummet in the point standings and lost a five-man Elimination Challenge.
Two episodes later, Anthony Rodriguez was in second place in the standings when he was sent home.
Matsuo losing, though, might be the most unexpected of the bombshell eliminations to hit the series. After all, he had led the series points standings since the first show with steady play and errorless course management.
Putting, the one flaw to his game, ultimately contributed to his demise.
The main reason Im not playing full-time is I have no confidence in the putter, Matsuo said before the series.
This is coming from a player who has experience on the Nationwide Tour and has played in a U.S. Open.
Ive known him a long time and he is extremely talented, said three-time PGA TOUR winner Olin Browne. He has so much ability, which sometimes can add pressure because people wonder why you havent done more with your game. When he is putting well, he is hard to beat because he strikes the ball so well.
Making the upset more unexpected was Warthen. The least experienced player in the field survived by escaping elimination early and becoming a force as his confidence grew.
Somewhat like the current PGA TOUR star Will MacKenzie, who took a sabbatical from golf to snow ski and surf before making it on TOUR, Warthen is a surfer-turned-filmmaker-turned-golfer. Picture Payne Stewart meeting Jeff Spicoli and you have Warthen.
His professional career got off to a righteous start last October when he won the first event he played on the California Players Tour. He still plays the circuit and has continued practicing to make the most of both his talent and life.
I feel like I have this talent for a reason and thats why Im going for it, said Warthen. God put golf in my life to teach me to be a responsible human being. This life isnt just about yourself. I am going to be able to act in a certain way and say stuff that will make people feel good and want to make people see themselves that way.
After the making a body boarding film in high school called Adolescence, at 19, he started playing golf again and instantly fell in love with the game. His enthusiasm led to both a job at a golf course and purchasing a set of clubs.
I had a natural feel, Warthen said about being re-introduced to the game. When I first came back to golf I could chip and putt but couldnt hit the ball straight. I was hooked on trying to figure out how to hit it straight.
The game seems to be pretty clear to him now. And if he lasts one more show to win Big Break: Mesquite, Warthen's ocean-sized talent will have this surfer riding all the way to the PGA TOUR.
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    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. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    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.

    Made Cut

    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.

    Missed Cut

    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.

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    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.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    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.