And the winners are

By TJ Hubbard, Big Break ProducerNovember 11, 2009, 12:23 am

And the winners are…Tony and Gipper.

Tune in Thursday, November 12 (the week of the Children’s Miracle Network) to watch a live match between the Finau brothers. The winner will receive a VIP Children’s Miracle Network Prize Package featuring everything from Disney park tickets to VIP tournament tickets. It has everything a quality Disney Golf trip should have.

What will be interesting is who the winner will bring back to the 2010 tournament. Both these guys want to be playing in the 2010 event and not visiting it, but I know the brothers are excited to compete live. Golf Channel will be featuring Tony and Gipper’s 1-hole match on Golf Central on Thursday, November 12.

Anytime Big Breakers team up, it can be a recipe for disaster, drama and excitement. The emotions abound when these guys are paired up. In previous series, we’ve allowed captains to choose teams, but mostly we’ve had a random draw. That said, for Big Break Disney Golf, we really wanted to switch it up. That’s why we wanted these guys to go back to their roots, back to when they were kids, and so we told them, “you choose.”

What we, the producers, didn’t expect was for the pairing to finish so quickly. It happened in 23 seconds. We thought maybe a minute or two, perhaps a little longer. But these guys knew exactly who they wanted on their side when it came down to hitting shots under pressure. (As a side note, I was not surprised to see Kevin and Andrew last to be picked.)

Insight from the Interviews: Facts all contestants had in common

1. Everyone knew Tony and Gipper were going to team up together. (Damn, I was hoping to see them go head to head.)

2. No one wanted to have Kevin on his team.

3. Everyone mentioned at least once that they wouldn’t mind having Tony on his team.

4. Andrew Giuliani was not going to be paired with Blake.

5. Andrew Giuliani was not going to be paired with Mike.

Every Big Break series provides amazing shots that are so good that they seem to define a player later on in the series. Kim (Ka’anapali) could not miss-hit her driver throughout the challenges and in one challenge she blasted one that went 333 yards. Haymes and Bernie (Michigan) dominated in the same alternate shot challenge we had in this show. Derek (Prince Edward Island) hit two wedge shots that ended up touching each other!

Now, this Big Break certainly has many fantastic shots, however Andrew’s fairway bunker shot that lead to his team’s immunity is (so far) his defining shot. Now, I’m not saying this could lead to his dominance in the series or that this could lead him to victory, but when he hit that shot, I jotted down the phrase “Defining Shot” in the margin of my notes that day. Those palm trees are 25-30 feet high, and Andrew was only 30 yards behind them. He had to hit that ball straight up with a little cut to get around a looming palm tree directly in his line of flight. He picked it cleanly, and I’ll tell you something, he silenced all his critics on the cast.

So, I think it’s official: Giuliani is now a favorite and a contender in Big Break Disney Golf.

Elimination Notes:

Note: How come Mike Perez can hit his 3 wood more accurately than his 9 iron? 

Fact: Mike hit his 3 wood on the 14th hole of Disney’s Palm Course to a distance of 28 feet. His 9-iron distance he miss-hit in his match against Blake for 25 yards.

Note: Vince Johnson likes his 9 iron. 

Fact: The footage was edited to ensure we could accommodate everything in the show. Vince and J.R. actually played the 16th hole three times but only two were seen in the show. Vince’s three distances (I walked them off myself) on his three approach shots from 155 yards are as follows:

1st shot: 5’6”
2nd shot: 8’11” (viewers didn’t see this hole –J.R. and Vince tied with par)
3rd shot: 11’

Note: Mike pulls his 3 wood before J.R. gets to his ball. 

Fact: Because Mike teed off first, he was first to reach his ball in the left rough. As Mike wheeled up to his ball, he looked back at J.R. and pulled his 3 wood to signify he’s going for the green in two. Seconds later, J.R. finally wheels his pull cart to his ball. Mike knew he was going for it and showed just how aggressive the Perez’s are on the golf course. Mike Perez may be the most aggressive player on the cast. But how about when he is compared next to Gipper?

Note: One of the sexiest 3-woods I’ve ever seen. 

Fact:  The 3-wood Mike hit to seal J.R.’s fate took off on a perfect line with a 10-yard draw and never left the flagstick. This shot displayed to the other contestants why he played on the Nationwide Tour for four years. Earlier, I talked about defining shots so far through this series; I’d have to say that this could be Mike’s defining shot.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”