Golf Channel Reveals 12-Member Cast for Big Break Myrtle Beach

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 26, 2014, 4:10 pm

The cast for Golf Channel’s 22nd season of its popular Big Break reality competition series – Big Break Myrtle Beach – was revealed today, featuring six men and six women hoping to take that next step in their professional golf careers.  They will compete for a grand prize of more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, including an exemption to either the 2015 Valspar Championship on the PGA TOUR or the 2015 Portland Classic on the LPGA Tour.  Big Break Myrtle Beach premieres Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Produced in partnership with Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and South Carolina Tourism and filmed at Barefoot Resort and Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Big Break Myrtle Beach features a cast of 12 who are at different stages in their professional golf careers.  Several are playing full time on the Symetra Tour and various mini tours throughout North America, while others turned professional solely to qualify for Big Break Myrtle Beach. All 12 will compete against each other in hopes of making their lifelong dream of walking the fairways on the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour a reality. 

The contestants are:

Jimmy Brandt (31, Auburn, Ala.) – Competing full time on the mini tour circuit, Brandt accumulated six victories and 16 top-10 finishes on the Hopkins Tour in 2012 and 2013.  Brandt earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour in 2011 and 2012 via PGA TOUR Q School, and is looking to return to golf’s biggest stages.  His father, who introduced him to the game, also is his full-time caddie.

Katie Detlefsen (25, Eagan, Minn.) – One of the top female junior golfers to come out of Minnesota and a recipient of the prestigious Dinah Shore Award in 2010, Detlefsen has been an LPGA Class A Teaching Professional since graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2011.  A college teammate of fellow Big Break Myrtle Beach competitor Carolin Pinegger, Detlefsen is using her teaching skills in pursuing her dream of competing on the LPGA Tour. Detlefsen also was a recipient of the prestigious Dinah Shore Award in 2010, an award given annually to a female collegiate golfer who excels in academics and athletics, while also demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and community service.

Katy Harris (35, Humble, Texas) – A top amateur golfer and All-American at Louisiana State University, Harris hung up her golf clubs following graduation in 2001 due to a hand injury. Nine years later, in 2010, Harris decided to give professional golf another try.  Since returning to competitive golf, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open three consecutive years (2011-13), recorded victories on the Cactus Tour, CN Canadian Women’s Tour and the Symetra Tour and earned conditional status on the LPGA Tour for the 2014 season.

Charlie Harrison (23, Atlanta, Ga.) – A graduate from Wake Forest University in 2013, Harrison is currently competing on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the mini tour circuit.  He recorded his first victory as a professional in 2013 on the Open Atlanta Golf Tour.

Christian Heavens (25, Orlando, Fla. / East St. Louis, Ill) – An alumnus of the First Tee of Greater St. Louis, Heavens credits golf for saving his life and as an avenue that helped him escape from the pressures of the streets of East St. Louis.  A graduate of Georgetown College in Kentucky where he competed on a First Tee Scholars scholarship, Heavens currently is competing on the mini tour circuit and the Florida Professional Golf Tour.

Dave Markle (29, Shelburne, Ontario, Canada) – One of the top amateur golfers from Canada (12th ranked amateur in the world in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2008), Markle is competing on PGA TOUR Canada and the mini tour circuit.  Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2011, Markle is an ambassador for the Canadian Diabetes Association, helping raise awareness and funds for Diabetes research.

Toph Peterson (28, Gilbert, Ariz. / Logan, Utah) – A graduate from Utah State University, Peterson is giving professional golf another push after stepping away from the game to start up a designer walking bag company. He currently is competing full time on various mini tours.

Carolin Pinegger (23, Orlando, Fla. / Schladming, Austria) – One of the more decorated junior golfers out of Austria, Pinegger moved to the United States at age 16 and played college golf at the University of Central Florida (where she was a teammate of fellow Big Break Myrtle Beach competitor Katie Detlefsen).  She turned professional following graduation in 2013 and is competing full time on the Symetra Tour.

Krista Puisite (23, Austin, Texas / Riga, Latvia) – A decorated junior golfer from Latvia where she was a member of the Latvian Junior National Team, Puisite turned professional in early 2014 after graduating from Texas State University. She is competing on the mini tour circuit and the Symetra Tour.

Anthony Quezada (19, Phoenix, Ariz.) – One of the youngest competitors in Big Break series history at age 19, Quezada turned professional in 2013 to achieve his dream of competing on the PGA TOUR.  An alumnus of The First Tee of Phoenix, Quezada recorded 33 victories with the Junior Golf Association of Arizona circuit. He, along with fellow Big Break Myrtle Beach competitor David Markle, has Type I Diabetes, and wants to use golf as a platform to spread awareness for Diabetes research. 

Tessa Teachman (24, Baton Rouge, La.) – Currently a member of the Ladies European Tour, Teachman is playing competitive golf in good health for the first time since college at Louisiana State University, where she finished third individually at the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships as a senior.  Following graduation in 2012, she underwent wrist surgery to repair multiple torn tendons in her right wrist – an injury that plagued her throughout college.  Following rehabilitation, she earned status on the Ladies European Tour in late 2013 and is playing a full schedule on the LET and the mini tour circuit in the United States in 2014.

Emily Tubert (22, Burbank, Calif.) – A three-time All-American at the University of Arkansas, Tubert is competing on Big Break Myrtle Beach fresh off of graduating from college in May.  While she might be one of the younger competitors on the series, on paper she is one of the favorites. Her resume includes: winning the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, member of the 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup Team, three-time All-American at the University of Arkansas, and a participant in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur.  Earlier this year, she was the recipient of the prestigious Dinah Shore Award, an award given annually to a female collegiate golfer who excels in academics and athletics, while also demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and community service.

PAIGE MACKENZIE JOINS AS CO-HOST: Serving as co-hosts for Big Break Myrtle Beach will be Tom Abbott and Paige Mackenzie. Mackenzie, a seven-year veteran of the LPGA Tour who also currently serves as a Golf Channel analyst, will make her Big Break co-hosting debut, providing analysis from a player’s perspective and detailing the pressure the competitors will face with each challenge.

GRAND PRIZE: The winner of Big Break Myrtle Beach will receive more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, including:

  • An exemption to the 2015 Valspar Championship or the 2015 Portland Classic on the LPGA Tour.
  • $75,000 in cash, including $5,000 courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods, $10,000 courtesy of Macanudo and $10,000 courtesy of Adams Golf.
  • Full, exempt status to the 2015 NGA Pro Golf Tour or the 2015 Symetra Tour with all entry fees paid.
  • 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 seven-day, six-night all-expenses paid return trip to Myrtle Beach with accommodations provided by North Beach Plantation and six rounds of golf that can be played at any of Myrtle Beach’s 100 premiere golf courses.

HOST GOLF COURSES: Filmed on location in June, the series will unfold on three of Barefoot Resort’s award-winning golf courses – The Dye, Fazio and Love Courses – as well as Pawleys Plantation on Pawleys Island.

  • The Dye Course, a classic Pete Dye layout, has been ranked among the nation’s top 100 public courses by Golf Digest and was recently named 2013 South Carolina Golf Course of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association.
  • The Fazio Course, designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio, has been ranked as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses by Golf Digest. 
  • The Love Course, designed by Carolina native Davis Love III, has been ranked among America's Top 100 You Can Play by Golf Magazine for years and as the top-ranked golf course in Myrtle Beach by Golf Digest. 
  • Pawleys Plantation, the award-winning Jack Nicklaus design just south of Myrtle Beach on Pawleys Island.

The Marina Inn and Resort at Grande Dunes served as official host resort for the competitors and production team during the filming of the series.

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 Myrtle Beach, the competitors will be subject to skills challenges from tee-to-green, including the popular “Glass Break” and “Flop Wall.”  One contestant will be eliminated each week, with the last player standing awarded his or her Big Break, an opportunity to compete on the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour in 2015.

For the past 21 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 are currently competing on the world’s top tours, including Anya Alvarez, Nicole Smith, Jackie Stoelting and Kim Welch on the LPGA Tour and Tony Finau, Hugo Leon, James Nitties and Mark Silvers on the Web.com Tour.

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

Follow Big Break on Twitter @BigBreak

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by The Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in The Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

Getty Images

Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one 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.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

Getty Images

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.