Contestants Revealed for Big Break Atlantis

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 12, 2012, 2:57 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 12, 2012) – Golf Channel’s popular Big Break reality series returns May 14 with an all-female cast ready to use serious golf skills, beauty and brains to take that next step in their golf careers.  Big Break Atlantis, the series’ 17th season, will premier May 14 at 9 p.m. ET.

Shot on location at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, Big Break Atlantis will showcase a field of 12 women at different stages of their golf careers – several are currently playing on the Symetra Tour (LPGA developmental tour), while others turned professional for the series – who will compete against each other in an attempt to make their lifelong dream of playing alongside the world’s top golfers a reality.  In addition to other prizes, the winner will receive an exemption to a to-be-announced 2012 LPGA Tour tournament, cash and other prizes.

The contestants are:

Anya Alvarez (22, Pittsburgh, Pa.) – A fiery competitor on the course, Alvarez has overcome enormous odds off the course.  A rookie on the Symetra Tour in 2012, Alvarez qualified and made the cut in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open in her first attempt.  She is an outspoken activist and public speaker on raising awareness of sexual abuse.

Shannon Fish (23, Spring, Texas) –Fish turned professional in 2011 following graduation from the University of Texas, posting four top-4 finishes on the Cactus Tour in her rookie year.  An intense competitor, she was introduced to the game as a child by her mother and one of the game’s all time greats – Jackie Burke.

Natalia Ghilzon (21, Windsor, Ontario) – One of the most athletic competitors on the series, Ghilzon will look to follow in the same footsteps as fellow Windsor native David Byrne, who won the series 15th season – Big Break Indian Wells.  After overcoming wrist injuries, Ghilzon enters 2012 healthy and with a new found confidence.

Meghan Hardin (19, Lake Arrowhead, Calif.) – The youngest female competitor in the history of Big Break at age 19, Hardin turned professional just prior to the filming of the series, foregoing her final two years of collegiate golf.  A part-time model, Hardin will begin her professional golf career in 2012, competing in Cactus Tour and mini-tour events.

Selanee Henderson (25, Temecula, Calif.) – A tough competitor on and off the course, Henderson is looking to capitalize on her success on the 2011 Cactus Tour (one win and one runner-up finish) to Big Break Atlantis.  A natural athlete, Selanee also is the younger sister of former Olympic wrestler and current MMA fighter Dan Henderson.

Marcela Leon (31, Orlando, Fla. / Monterrey, Mexico) – The most experienced competitor in the series, Leon has competed on the Symetra Tour for the past nine years, with five career top-10 finishes and one runner-up finish.  She is competing a full-schedule on the 2012 Symetra Tour.

Aubrey McCormick (29, Arlington, Va.) – A free spirit, McCormick hung up the golf clubs in 2011 after struggling on the Symetra Tour and other mini-tour circuits.  After working in an office environment, McCormick rediscovered her passion for the game and is beginning 2012 with a fresh outlook on golf. 

Allison Micheletti (24, Scottsdale, Ariz.) – Daughter of former professional hockey player and current New York Rangers television analyst Joe Micheletti, Allison is a late bloomer to the game of golf, switching to the game at age 17 following a knee injury that sidelined her basketball career.  Micheletti will compete on the Cactus Tour and select Symetra Tour events in 2012.

Zakiya Randall (20, Atlanta, Ga.) – Golfer, model and music producer, Randall turned professional just prior to the filming of Big Break Atlantis, and is determined to make a name for herself in professional golf.  Nicknamed “Z,” Randall will look to make a statement on the series with her golf game and her fashion.

Gloriana Soto (25, Windermere, Fla. / San Jose, Costa Rica) – The first female professional golfer from Costa Rica to compete in the United States, Soto turned professional immediately following graduation from Texas Tech in 2010, and is scheduled to play a full schedule on the Symetra Tour in 2012.

Christina Stockton (24, Rocklin, Calif.) – Daughter of LPGA teaching professional Becky Herbert Stockton, golf was introduced to Christina at a young age.  A four-time all conference player at the University of San Francisco and a part-time model, she turned professional in 2011 and will compete on the Symetra Tour, Cactus Tour and Canadian Women’s Tour in 2012.

Kelly Villarreal (29, Birmingham, Ala.) – Nicknamed “The Real Deal,” Villarreal is anticipating Big Break Atlantis to be her comeback story.  She is giving professional golf another go after giving up on her dreams to compete on the LPGA Tour for a medical sales career five years ago.
           

The series also will feature special guest appearances from Women’s World No. 1 Yani Tseng and LPGA Tour professional Gerina Piller, who also was a competitor on Big Break Prince Edward Island, the series 11th season.  Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott and Stephanie Sparks return as co-hosts for the series. 
           

Produced in January at the Bahamas resort, the 11-part series will unfold on the Tom Weiskopf designed 18-hole championship course – Ocean Club Golf Course – a picturesque par-72 layout featuring breathtaking signature holes and seaside greens and tees stretched over 7,100 yards of coastline.
The 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 Atlantis, one contestant will be eliminated each week, with the last player standing awarded her Big Break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in an LPGA Tour event.

Past Big Break champions have won tournament exemptions to compete on some of the world’s top professional circuits, including the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour and Canadian Tour.  Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Big Break VII: Reunion champion and PGA TOUR professional, caught the world’s attention in 2011 with three top-five finishes, and Ryann O’Toole, competitor on Big Break Sandals Resorts in 2010 competed on the U.S. Solheim Cup Team as a Captain’s Pick during her rookie year in 2011.

Several other past Big Break competitors are currently competing on the world’s top tours, including Matt Every (PGA TOUR), James Nitties (Nationwide Tour), Kim Welch and Sara Brown (Ladies European Tour); and Gerina Piller, O’Toole and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (LPGA Tour).

-NBC Sports Group-

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.