Jackie Stoelting Wins Golf Channel's Big Break Florida Competition Series

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 20, 2014, 2:35 pm

Jackie Stoelting (Vero Beach, Fla.) defeated Fiamma Felitch (Oklahoma City, Okla.), 4&3 in the championship match on Monday’s season finale of Big Break Florida, Golf Channel’s 21st season of its competition franchise.

Contested at the Oak Marsh Golf Course at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Stoelting controlled the championship match from the outset, building a 5-up lead through the first eight holes. She maintained her lead over Felitch and two-putted the par-4 15th hole to close out the match 4&3.

“It means the world to me, I’m just so thankful and I can’t believe it,” said an emotional Stoelting following the conclusion of the match. “This is a rollercoaster. I played really well and this is going to change my life.”

As champion of Big Break Florida, Stoelting will receive an invitation to compete in the LPGA Tour’s 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, June 5-8. In addition, she will receive:

  • $65,000 in cash, including $5,000 courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods and $10,000 courtesy of Macanudo.
  • Full, exempt status to the 2015 Symetra Tour season with all entry fees paid.
  • An endorsement contract from Adams Golf, including $10,000 in cash.
  • $10,000 in car rental credit courtesy of Avis Car Rental.
  • $13,000 in travel credit courtesy of Travelocity.
  • A four-day, three-night stay at any Omni golf resort in the United States.

As a result of winning challenge prizes during the course of the series, Stoelting also earned:

  • Custom hybrids courtesy of Adams Golf.
  • $4,000 in travel credit courtesy of Travelocity.
  • $7,500 courtesy of Macanudo.
  • A three-day, two-night return trip to Omni Amelia Island Plantation.

Felitch earned the following challenge prizes during the course of the series:

  • $10,000 courtesy of Macanudo.
  • $2,500 in car rental credit courtesy of Avis Car Rental.
  • $2,000 in travel credit courtesy of Travelocity.

Stoelting has been riding a wave of momentum on the golf course as of late.  In 2013, she qualified and made the cut in the prestigious U.S. Women’s Open in June, and in December, earned conditional LPGA status for 2014 by finishing T38 during Stage III of LPGA Q School. She has focused her 2014 season on the Symetra Tour thus far, which has included three top-10 finishes and currently stands in sixth place on the Volvik Race for the Card Money List. She will make her 2014 LPGA debut at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in June as a result of winning Big Break Florida.

Filmed on location in October 2013, Big Break Florida was produced in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA and the competition unfolded at Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s three award-winning golf courses: Oak Marsh, Ocean Links and Long Point Golf Courses.  Oak Marsh Golf Course, a classic Pete Dye design, is ranked as one of the top 75 resort courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and as one of “Florida’s 50 Finest Courses” by Travel & Leisure.  Ocean Links Golf Course, a Bobby Weed design, features five oceanfront holes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and winds through six miles of natural sand dunes and seaside terrain that is unique to Amelia Island.  Long Point Golf Course is a Tom Fazio design that features rolling fairways winding through three distinctive settings: marshlands, thick oak and pine forest, and scenic oceanfront dunes. 

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. The competitors are subject to skills competitions from tee-to-green, including two of the series’ signature challenges, the popular “Glass Break” and “Flop Wall” challenges.  One contestant is eliminated each week, with the last player standing awarded his or her Big Break, an opportunity to compete at golf’s highest level.

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. 

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. Matt Every (Big Break Mesquite competitor) earned his first PGA TOUR victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in April 2014.  2013 Solheim Cup team member Gerina Piller (Big Break Prince Edward Island competitor), 2011 Solheim Cup team member Ryann O’Toole (Big Break Sandals Resorts competitor) and 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Kristy McPherson (Big Break VI: Trump National competitor) are currently playing full-time on the LPGA Tour.  Several other past Big Break competitors are currently competing on the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour, including Kim Welch and Nicole Smith.

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

Follow Big Break on Twitter @BigBreak

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."