Golf Channel's Big Break Series Heads to Mexico For 19th Season

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 19, 2013, 5:04 pm

Golf Channel’s popular Big Break reality competition series has chosen Mexico as the next competition grounds for its 19th season, premiering Monday, May 13.  The luxurious, all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso and the accompanying Playa Paraiso Golf Club in Riviera Maya will serve as the backdrop for Big Break Mexico, providing the opportunity for the ultimate winner to compete alongside the game’s best on the LPGA Tour or the PGA TOUR.

Big Break is a cornerstone of our original series franchises, and it has proven to be a launching pad for many professional golfers looking to break through to the world’s top tours, including the likes of PGA TOUR pros Tommy Gainey and Matt Every and Solheim Cup veterans Ryann O’Toole and Kristy McPherson,” said Golf Channel Executive Producer Molly Solomon.  “Our ultimate goal with Big Break Mexico is to place our competitors in pressure situations on a world-class golf course, and we achieved this from the picturesque IBEROSTAR Playa Paraiso Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico.”

Big Break Mexico, produced in partnership with the Mexico Tourism Board, will feature a cast of six men and six women competing in a mixed team format in an attempt to make their lifelong dreams of playing alongside the world’s top golfers come true.  This season’s Big Break champion will receive an exemption to compete either on the LPGA Tour at the 2013 Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex and Jalisco or on the PGA TOUR at the 2013 OHL Classic at Mayakoba (both Nov. 14-17).

“Mexico Tourism is excited to bring Golf Channel’s Big Break series to Mexico for the first time and showcasing everything Mexico has to offer as an ideal vacation destination,” said Gerardo Llanes, Chief Marketing Officer for Mexico Tourism Board.  “We look forward to working with Golf Channel in featuring Mexico’s beautiful tourism experiences and vacation resorts, magnificent golf courses and also touting our signature professional golf tournaments on the LPGA and PGA TOUR.”

Big Break Mexico also will feature a guest appearance from former LPGA World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, who surprised the cast during the filming of the series and competed alongside the players in one of the challenges.  Following the challenge, Ochoa also was given the opportunity to participate in Big Break’s signature challenge for the first time – The Glass Break – where she shattered the glass on her first attempt.

“I love having Big Break in my home country of Mexico and am proud to offer an exemption to the Lorena Ochoa Invitational,” said Ochoa.  “Big Break is very popular, and I want to help the sport of golf in my country as much as I can.  This is a win-win situation for all of us.  It was great to meet all of the players and see how excited they are to be on Big Break.  I’m looking forward to watching the series this summer and see how I fared in front of all of the cameras.”

The series will unfold on the resort’s P.B. Dye designed 18-hole championship course – IBEROSTAR Playa Paraiso Golf Club – a par-72 layout featuring breathtaking signature holes and distinctive rock work that are signatures of a typical P.B Dye design.  Carved out of the ancient Mayan jungle, the IBEROSTAR Playa Paraiso Golf Club features narrow fairways, deep bunkers and extreme vertical movement, along with untraditional hazards such as a rock riverbed that make the course distinctively unique to the area.

“We are thrilled to be the host partner for Big Break Mexico.  Golf is an important growing segment for IBEROSTAR and Golf Channel’s audience aligns well with our target guest; therefore, it was a natural fit to partner with Big Break,” said Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for IBEROSTAR, John Long.  “It is our hope that Big Break Mexico will inspire travellers and golf enthusiasts to visit IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso and experience the luxurious amenities and services we have to offer guests.”

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.  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, Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour.  Mark Silvers, Big Break Greenbrier champion, will compete in the 2013 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR as a result of his victory in 2012.

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Big Break VII: Reunion champion and PGA TOUR professional, captured his first PGA TOUR victory in 2012 at The McGladrey Classic and is playing full-time on the PGA TOUR.  Several other past Big Break competitors are currently competing on the world’s top tours, including Matt Every (PGA TOUR), James Nitties and Mark Silvers (Web.com Tour) and Kim Welch, Nicole Smith, Gerina Piller, Kelly Jacques, 2011 Solheim Cup team member Ryann O’Toole and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (LPGA Tour).

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Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''