A Second Chance

By TJ Hubbard, Big Break ProducerSeptember 21, 2010, 7:03 pm

Welcome to a new season of Big Break—our 14th—set in the beautiful Dominican Republic at the Casa de Campo Resort! While we’ve had many championship golf courses to host this series (Carnoustie, Kingsmill, Turtle Bay, Disney – Palm/Magnolia), Pete Dye’s gems in the Caribbean—Teeth of the Dog and Dye Fore—were the best I’ve seen on Big Break. The course conditions, the greens and the layout and design of the course were pure perfection. Honestly, that’s not just a pop to our host for gratuitous marketing. I speak the truth; the courses were in tremendous condition, so long as you could correctly read the grain!

While we are very excited to get this series going and showcase all that it has to offer, we’re especially eager to welcome back 12 very entertaining Big Break alumni. No one on this show tasted success in their respective season, and this is their second chance. All of them knew that an opportunity like this doesn’t come along often.

This is my ninth season working on the series, and I can say, without a doubt, this will be the most entertaining season ever. Every season, we have no problem finding talented golfers to cast this show, however you never know what you’re going to get as far as ‘watch-ability.’ Our biggest fear is casting a player whose personality and character don’t transfer well to television. The most recurring question we ask ourselves when casting players for the show is, “Will they be memorable?” Not just memorable in the sense, “are they crazy, certifiable nut jobs?” Our “memorable” is a little deeper than the classic American Idol-loony dressed up for Simon. We want memorable in the sense of, “can they golf their ball; are they a good story; can they carry the series with their presence on camera?” This is the first season where I can say all 12 of our contestants can do that. If you don’t believe me, check out our cast here: http://www.thegolfchannel.com/big-break-dominican-republic/players/

As I said before, casting is the most important aspect of Big Break, and in BIG BREAK DOMINICAN REPUBLIC we delivered the goods. Most of these memorable players, compiled from the last seven seasons, arrived to the Dominican with a host of skeletons in their closet from their experience on Big Break

  • Christina Lecuyer and Lori Atsedes, who legitimately despised each other, arrived at Santo Domingo Airport together and didn’t speak to each other for the entire one-hour bus ride to Casa de Campo. In fact, that was the first time they saw each other since the show’s production. The producers on the bus said the indifference was palatable and quite awkward. All I want to say is Christina and Lori aren’t any closer to being friends even now.
  • Blake Moore and Andrew Giuliani who were two guys profoundly affected by their previous Big Break experience, one positively, one very negatively. Andrew learned a lot about himself as a player and competitor, and weeks after Big Break Disney Golf wrapped production, Mr. Giuliani (son of former NYC mayor-Rudy Giuliani) won the MET OPEN (a tournament won by Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson). While Andrew has seen success, Blake Moore’s post-Big Break story goes another direction that all stemmed from his behavior on the show. He was “asked” to leave his golf club in California. He subsequently moved to Colorado to get away from the stress of his surrounding golf community. He also lost sponsorships and had poor results in golf.
  • Anthony “A-Rod” Rodriguez missed a 2-foot putt and was eliminated from Big Break Mesquite after dominating the first few episodes. Since his show, A-Rod stopped playing, and by his admission, he couldn’t get over the missed putt for more than a year.
  • Blair O’Neal has continued her modeling career with great success and has been playing extremely well (three wins on the Cactus Tour) all as a result of Big Break re-igniting her golf competitive fire and her runner-up finish.
  • Others like David Mobley, “self-titled” and voted on by our viewers as the Most Hated Big Breaker ever, has enjoyed success and notoriety on the golf entertainment circuit, while Brian Skatell’s story hasn’t been one of success, more of frustration. Although he’s back on Big Break, Brian said his experience on Prince Edward Island “ruined his life.”  
  • Elena Robles experienced only one show and was gone. We brought her back because of all the first-show eliminated players we’ve had, her quality of golf was the best. She honestly didn’t hit a bad shot! And from the same show, Sara Brown was a player that proved she could not only hit good shots, but captivate us with her smile, giggles and laughter. I’ll say this now; her ride in the Dominican Republic will not be an easy one.
  • Same goes for the rest of the players filling out the cast. William “Football” Thompson, eliminated second on Prince Edward Island will have to overcome his stage fright and inability to get over the pressure of Big Break. And finally can Brenda McLarnon, everyone’s favorite Irish woman, overcome the fact that she’s traded her tour golf career for the daily grind on a lesson tee? 

I can’t wait for the series to begin, and I can’t wait for all of you to see what we have in store.  Enjoy!

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x