Talk about extremes. The first time I had the pleasure of field and post producing for Big Break, it was in the Dominican Republic. Every single day on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola was defined by heat, humidity, cobalt blue and green oceans, plenty of rain, and some of the most intense golf challenges I’d seen on Big Break to date. I didn’t think it could get more surprising. That was until I landed on the Emerald Isle and found myself in the complete opposite of environments. Freezing cold temperatures, gusts of wind that reached up to 50-miles an hour, farm lands dappled with sheep as far as the eye could see, and castles dating as far back as the 12th century – I had never felt or seen anything like it and I was excited to be there.
My first assignment was to meet up with a few of our competitors who had flown in from different parts of the U.S.: Whitney, a charming golfer from South Carolina who may have had been perceived as naïve by some of the other competitors - but I think they confused kindness with weakness. Whitney is not weak and that showed in her fire during her elimination challenge. Even though she had been eliminated in episode one by Bennett, I think we all still saw her athleticism and I know there will be more great golf moments from her in years to come. It was sad to see her go.
Speaking of Bennett, I could tell he automatically saw himself as a leader. While the others may have seen him as somewhat of a black sheep, I think his strategy is to not get too close to the others, because they had all been told there would be only one winner of Big Break Ireland. Bennett, an Orlando, Florida resident, is laser-focused on that win. Hopefully, he’ll be able to cut loose a little. Only time on the show will tell.
And then there is the complete opposite of Bennett: Mark Murphy. Mark is originally from Waterville, Kerry, Ireland and now a resident of my favorite city in the world, “Nawlins”, Louisiana. The golfer’s got jokes and not only did he keep spirits light in show one, but he may have been a key ingredient to his team’s win. Yeah, things didn’t quite pan out in show two for Team Liffey, but something tells me Mark’s ‘laissez les bon temps rouler’ attitude may be an asset to him. And he pretty much made me, and the crew, laugh every day – even while enduring the wind chills and icy rain. I still even laugh while in the edit bay as my editor and I put together some of his more light-hearted moments.
I guess what I’m attempting to point out is that the personalities on Big Break Ireland are as colorful, enigmatic, and lush as Ireland itself. It could be Andy’s intensity on the course – most likely from years spent playing professionally – to his sense of humor when he chunks it out of the bunker. Or the often reserved and quiet Nina who absolutely proved her fearlessness and ability by speaking out in breakfast against Bennett and then backing her bark up with her bite by winning her match against Mallory. Or Matt, the rugged, tough Scottsdale, Arizona resident originally from Mulanje, Malawi, Africa who cuts loose with Mark as the two of them play great golf and goof around.
However, more important than the personalities of Big Break Ireland’s competitors is their ability to play great golf. Kelly going toe-to-toe with Nicole to keep her match square, Matt’s monster 25-ft putt to win his match and surprise Bennett, or Julien’s putt that beat Mark and effectively turned the tide toward Team Straffan…absolutely amazing. As Mallory stated, “We thought we had it in the bag…” but she thought too soon and the win was ripped from Team Liffey forcing Team Captain Mallory to take not one, but two of her own teammates into the Elimination Challenge.
That’s when I saw the friendliness between the girls of Team Liffey all but disappear. Kelly was annoyed that Mallory selected her. She felt that it showed how scared Mallory may have been to compete against a guy. Annie, who was on the Big Break to redeem her reputation as the golfer “busted” for supposedly cheating in her last tournament at Notre Dame – resulting in a disqualification – wanted to come out of the elimination challenge unscathed. Annie can golf. She essentially pulled a prank in her last college tournament in which she reported her genuine scores on her score card, but joked with a rep from GolfStat.com – reporting a birdie on each hole – and the rules officials didn’t find the prank sportsman like. However, we’ve all done something ridiculous in college and only in hindsight do we see the folly of our ways.
After Mallory saves herself from elimination by successfully putting two balls on the green of the 18th hole at the Palmer Smurfit Course, Kelly and Annie are left to square off, head to head, to see who will stay and who will be eliminated.
It all came down to the final location in which Annie plops her ball in the water. It was a tough shot and as Kelly put it, she “wished she could have told [Annie] to not hit that shot” the way she had, but it’s “cutthroat.” In the elimination challenge, the team aspect of the competition goes out the window and it becomes every golfer for herself. In the end, Kelly beats Annie and, in tears, Annie is eliminated. But don’t write Annie off any time soon. She’s an athlete, she made it to show two, and she is playing a full schedule on the LPGA Futures Tour in 2011. Expect more from her and much more from Big Break Ireland in the next show aptly titled “The Fighting Irish”.
Tune in next week... Tuesday night, 9PM Eastern.
Text BREAK to 55333 to sign up to get mobile text alerts about Big Break Ireland.