12-Member Cast Revealed for Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL Competing for Exemption to 2015 Barbasol Championship and More Than $120,000 in Cash and Prizes

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 14, 2015, 2:00 pm

Premiering Monday, Feb. 2, Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL Features One of the Most Talented Casts in Series History, Including Collegiate All-Americans, Multiple Winners on Various Mini Tours, Trick Shot Experts and Iraq War Veteran/Amputee

Series’ 23rd Season to Showcase the Newly Renovated PGA National Resort & Spa Champion Course and the Famed ‘Bear Trap’

Series Website: Big Break Website

Series Video Trailer: Preview Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2015) – The cast for Golf Channel’s 23nd season of its popular Big Break reality competition series – Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL – was revealed today, featuring aspiring golfers hoping to take that next step in their professional golf careers.  Twelve men will compete for more than $120,000 in cash and prizes on the series, including an exemption to the 2015 Barbasol Championship on the PGA TOUR.  Taking place at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – home to the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic and the famed Bear Trap – Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL premieres Monday, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. ET. 

Produced in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, Discover The Palm Beaches and PGA National, Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL features one of the most talented and diverse casts in series history.  The cast includes several collegiate All-Americans, multiple-time winners on various mini tours and an Iraq War Veteran looking to become the first amputee golfer to compete on the PGA TOUR. A special “Meet the Players” show will air Monday, Jan. 26 at 10 p.m. ET.

The contestants are (current residence / hometown):

George Bryan (27, Chapin, S.C.) – Older brother of fellow competitor Wesley Bryan, George was a three-time All-American at the University of South Carolina and a teammate of Big Break Greenbrier champion Mark Silvers.  George is currently competing on mini tours, and has gained popularity with his brother in posting trick shot videos online (BryanBrosGolf).

Wesley Bryan (24, Augusta Ga. / Chapin, S.C.) – Younger brother of fellow competitor George Bryan, Wesley played collegiate golf at the University of South Carolina and is currently competing on various mini tours.

Brandon Hartzell (27, Charleston, S.C. / St. Paul, Minn.) – Competing on mini tours and working as a caddie at Kiawah Island, Hartzell’s dream to play full time on a professional level has been curtailed by finances and a significant injury to his left hand following an automobile accident in 2010.  He played collegiate golf at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., and turned professional following graduation in 2009.

Justin Martinson (26, Savannah, Ga. / Avondale, Pa.) – A graduate of the University of Delaware, Martinson was one of the most successful amateur golfers in Delaware history, recording multiple wins (two-time Delaware Open champion, Delaware Amateur and Philadelphia Amateur champion). An avid junior hockey player growing up, Martinson switched to golf in high school when his family moved to Pennsylvania from California.  He recorded his first professional victory in 2011 when he won the Delaware Open and he added to this victory with several others including a win on the Swingthought.com Tour in 2014.  

Clay Myers (24, Orlando, Fla. / Memphis, Tenn.) – A member of the four-time Southwestern Athletic Conference championship golf team at Jackson State University, Myers recorded multiple collegiate victories, highlighted by the 20012 individual conference championship title.  In funding his golf career, Myers has participated in several Dick’s Sporting Goods commercials and Golf Galaxy catalogs, and also caddied for Cheyenne Woods in 2014.  

Tyler Neff (30, Knoxville, Tenn.) – A recent newlywed (married in November), Tyler Neff played collegiately at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and turned professional immediately following graduation in 2008.  He holds three course records in Tennessee and is competing full time on mini tours in 2015.

Chad Pfeifer (33, Scottsdale, Ariz.) – An Iraq war veteran who lost his left leg during the Iraq War, Pfeifer learned to play the game of golf while rehabbing in an Army hospital.  Crediting golf as saving his life, his goal is to become the first amputee to compete on the PGA TOUR.

Zach Portemont (25, Birmingham, Ala.) –Growing up as a member of a family-owned traveling carnival, Portemont played limited junior golf.  Through hard work and dedication, he earned a scholarship to Troy University, ultimately becoming team captain and one of the top players in the Sunbelt Conference.  Following graduation in 2011, he has competed on the various mini tours throughout the Southeast.

Robert Rohanna (28, Naples, Fla. / Waynesburg, Pa.) – An Academic All-American from Penn State University, Rohanna grew up playing golf on his family course in Waynesburg, Pa.  He earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour for 2015 and also will be competing on PGA TOUR LatinoAmerica.

Tommy Schaff (39, Savannah, Ga.) – The oldest and most experienced competitor on Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL, Schaff has recorded 25 mini tour wins since turning professional in 2002, but finances and injuries have prevented him from reaching the next level.

Kyle Scott (28, Atlanta, Ga. / Johannesburg, South Africa) –Roommates with fellow competitor Richy Werenski at Georgia Tech, Scott is originally from South Africa and was a late bloomer to the game of golf, taking it up at age 17. Scott has conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2015.

Richy Werenski (23, Bluffton, S.C. / South Hadley, Mass.) – The youngest competitor on Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL, Werenski turned professional immediately following graduation from Georgia Tech in May 2014, winning three of his first five professional events.  Teammates with fellow competitor Kyle Scott at Georgia Tech, Werenski also holds three university records.  His greatest accomplishment in golf is winning the 2012 Porter Cup and having his name engraved on the same trophy as Phil Mickelson.

MELANIE COLLINS RETURNS AS CO-HOST: Serving as co-hosts for Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL will be Tom Abbott and Melanie Collins.  Collins made her Golf Channel debut as co-host for Big Break Florida, the series’ 21st season, in early 2014. 

GRAND PRIZE: The competitors are playing for more than $120,000 in cash and prizes during the course of the series.  In addition to the weekly challenge prizes on the series, The winner of Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL will receive more than $80,000 in cash and prizes, including:

  • An exemption to the 2015 Barbasol Championship on the PGA TOUR
  • $60,000 in cash, including $10,000 courtesy of Adams Golf.
  • An endorsement contract from Adams Golf.
  • $10,000 in car rental credit courtesy of Avis Car Rental.
  • $10,000 in travel credit courtesy of Travelocity.
  • A return, week-long trip for two to PGA National Resort & Spa, including Suite Accommodations, daily breakfast, select Spa services, daily golf and a Chef’s private dinner at Ironwood Steak & Seafood.

HOST GOLF COURSES: Filmed on location in September, the series will unfold on four of PGA National Resort & Spa’s award-winning golf courses, headlined by the famed Champion Course.  Hall-of-Famer and acclaimed designer Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course in 1990, and then went through a renovation in 2014.  A key part of the renovation was an adjustment to the design of No. 14 – the prelude to The Bear Trap (Holes 15-17) – which included bringing the green closer to the water on the right.

“The Champion Course is a thinking person’s golf course,” said Nicklaus.  “You’ve got to figure out whether to attack the greens or whether to be conservative.  That, to me, is what golf is all about.  I’ve always put a premium on accuracy, rather than power.  This golf course definitely has those elements, and I look forward to seeing those elements come into play.”

  • The Champion – Home to The Honda Classic, the Champion Course features The Bear Trap – a demanding stretch of holes (15-17) that is widely known as one of the toughest in golf.
  • The Palmer – Named after its designer, Arnold Palmer, the course is a subtle nod to the game's Scottish roots and is a true risk / reward layout. Its 18th is one of the most scenic and picturesque par 5s on the property.
  • The Fazio – A complete renovation of the resort’s Haig Course, The Fazio was modernized by Tom Fazio II and is a splendid shot maker’s design.
  • The Squire – Named after Gene Sarazen and designed by George and Tom Fazio, The Squire is a test of accuracy and precision and is the most exacting of the courses at PGA National.

SERIES FORMAT: Golf Channel’s Big Break show concept pits highly skilled golfers against each other in a variety of challenges that test their physical skills and mental toughness.  During Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL, competitors will be subject to skills challenges from tee-to-green, including two of the series’ signature challenges, the popular “Glass Break” and “Flop Wall.”  One contestant will be eliminated each week, with the last player standing awarded his Big Break, an opportunity to compete on the PGA TOUR.

For the past 22 seasons, Golf Channel’s Big Break competition series has proven to be the launching pad for many aspiring professional golfers looking to take that next step in their golf careers, including PGA TOUR winners Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey and Matt Every, and U.S. Solheim Cup participants Kristy McPherson, Gerina Piller and Ryann O’Toole, all playing full time on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour, respectively.  Several other past Big Break competitors will be competing on the world’s top tours in 2015, including Tony Finau (PGA TOUR), Mallory Blackwelder, Katy Harris, Sadena Parks and Jackie Stoelting (LPGA Tour), Sophie Sandolo (Ladies European Tour) and Rick Cochran, Hugo Leon, James Nitties, Justin Peters and Mark Silvers (Web.com Tour).

Become a fan of Big Break on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/BigBreak

Follow Big Break on Twitter @BigBreak

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.