Americans Back in the Fold


Editor's Note: The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe, is The Golf Channels fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked to include a team dynamic. But that in no way means the stakes arent high for each individual, as the contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
One by one they have watched as their opponents and teammates have been eliminated from the show, and now the dream of winning the Big Break IV is down to the final four ' T.J. Valentine and Paul Holtby of Team USA and Thomas Blankvoort and Guy Woodman of Team Europe.
Big Break IV
Guy Woodman tries to escape from trouble during the Europeans match against the Americans.
But before the show set teammates against each other in order to determine the finale, the two teams squared off in a semi-friendly match with some valuable prizes for the winners. Another two-year lease on a Ford Explorer and all expenses paid trip back to Scotland were up for grabs.
For the trip to Scotland, the two teams would play three holes of match play using the alternate shot format. On the fourth hole, Valentine would face Blankvoort and Holtby would play Woodman in separate, one-hole singles matches. The team with the most points after four holes would win the return vacation trip to Scotland.
I thought it was a way of saying to the four guys who have gotten this far, well done, congratulations, you guys can win some great prizes. Then we get back to work, said Blankvoort on the Prize Challenge Rounds.
The Americans looked as if they were getting off to a good start as Holtby found the fairway off the tee while Team Europe knocked it into the woods. From the edge of the trees, Blankvoort hit his approach into a greenside bunker. Advantage USA. Valentine, however, chunked his approach, causing the USA to ultimately reach the green in three. The Euros blasted out of the bunker and two-putted while the USA also two-putted leaving the match all-square thru 1 at a half point apiece.
After both teams failed to reach the green in regulation on the second hole, Team Europe hit a clutch chip to within inches of the hole and the Americans conceded their par. Facing a touch pitch shot from above the green, Valentine blew his shot well past the hole and then watched as Holtby was unable to make the comebacker to keep the match all square. Team Europe 1 - Team USA .
Much like on the first hole, Team USA again found itself in good position off the tee on the third hole as Woodmans shot for Team Europe found a nasty lie in the thick round down the left side of the fairway. But unfortunately just like the first hole, Valentine again badly chunked his approach.
Biggest cardinal sin in golf: you let something bother you that happened in the past bother you in the present, said Valentine on his struggles.
From the nasty stuff, Blankvoort was at least able to get his ball back in play but their subsequent approach flew the green. Blankvoort came right back with a great chip that saved bogey but then had to wait to see if the Americans could scramble to make par. Valentines putt to square the match lipped out, leaving the USA in a tough position heading to the one-hole singles match. Team Europe 2 ' Team USA 1.
Big Break IV
T.J. Valentine drops his head after one of the many disappointing shots he hit during episode 11.
Needing to sweep both singles matches to win the Scottish vacation, Valentine once more put his team behind the eight ball. His tee shot went into the right rough and then hit his second into the left rough. Meanwhile, his opponent Blankvoort found the green and had a chance at birdie. No matter that Holtby had beat Woodman in his match to even the score momentarily; Valentine conceded the putt to Blankvoort to give the Europeans the win.
I definitely think T.J. did the right and the professional thing by conceding the match to him, said Holtby on the conclusion of the days competition. Congratulations to the Europeans.
The Euros now had a chance at the Ford Explorer two-year lease if they could manage to hit an approach shot from 100-yards out into a 6-foot circle painted around the flagstick. Alas, with the wind up at Carnoustie neither player was able to make it happen.
That was fun, but I guess we are down to the nitty gritty now, said Woodman about the days events and his upcoming match with Blankvoort. It is going to be a tough challenge ahead of me to have to face Thomas with a chance to get into the final.
On the other side of the coin, teammates Valentine and Holtby now faced the proposition of battling one another in the other semifinal.
Its going to be good, hard competitive golf and thats what time it is, said Holtby on his upcoming match with friend Valentine.

The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break IV: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
  • Big Break IV Photo Gallery
  • Contestant Bios