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!

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

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Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.