Bunker Mentality at Carnoustie


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.
For the second straight episode, Team USA was given a free pass from the Immunity and Elimination Challenges as the European squad was in the process of being whittled down to two players.
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With the cameras rolling, Guy Woodman hits a shot during the Elimination Challenge.
Marty Wilde Jr., Guy Woodman and Thomas Blankvoort remained from Team Europe and had to face a series of bunker shots for the Immunity Challenge, including one from the famed spectacle bunkers at Carnoustie.
The mood had definitely changed and its definitely more of an individual thing, rather than a team thing now, observed Wilde Jr. as they prepared for the Immunity Challenge.
If youre too intense and keep thinking about what could happen and what might happen, youll drive yourself mad, added Woodman.
Starting from a greenside bunker, the players would hit from three different bunkers and have to hole out after each shot. The player with the fewest total strokes following all three bunkers would be safe from elimination.
Woodman and Blankvoort got off to good starts, both getting up and down in two while Wilde Jr. burned the edge with his putt from 8 feet to drop back a shot.
You just feel like you have to hit everything close and every shot has to be perfect, which is tough, said Wilde Jr.
Hitting from the second bunker, Marty fell even further behind as his putt for a two again slid by the hole. Woodman and Blankvoort, however, were in a tight battle for the immunity as they both sank their putts and were tied heading into the very dangerous spectacle bunkers.
Facing a 70-yard blast to the pin, the spectacle bunkers had the players staring into the face of the bunker that rose some 5 feet over their heads as they stood in the sand.
Youre so far down (in the bunker) you cant see anything. The flag, the green, anything, recalled Woodman on the severity of the bunker
From the outside they look very cool. From the inside, you dont want to be in there, added Blankvoort.
Blankvoorts first attempt came up well short of the green but his subsequent chip rolled up to within 5 feet of the hole. Woodman had a 25 footer to win it outright but his putt was long and to the right. Wilde Jr. meanwhile, missed his up and down effort and thus put himself into the Elimination Challenge.
Woodman and Blankvoort both made their knee-knockers to force a playoff between the two to see who would win the immunity.
They again had to hit from the spectacle bunkers and both hit their shots fat, coming to rest in the greenside rough. They each hit their ensuing chip shots to approximately 5 feet and if one of them could get their putt to drop they would move on to the next show.
Woodman, who up until this point had been lights out with his putting, missed on the low side then watched as his teammate turned opponent Blankvoort drained his putt to win the Immunity Challenge.
Guy has been so solid with that putter and he let that one slip by him. He left the door open for Thomas, observed American T.J. Valentine.
Now Im a part of the show for another week and getting another step closer to the goal, the eventual goal, said a pleased Blankvoort on his win.
It was now down to Wilde Jr. and Woodman to see who would be joining Blankvoort and Americans Valentine and Paul Holtby in the final four. The Elimination Challenge was three holes of stroke play, the player with the highest accumulated score getting his walking papers.
After hitting their drives on the first hole, both players found the fringe with their approach shots. Wilde Jr. rolled up his putt to 3 feet while Woodman nearly sank his effort. Woodman tapped in for par and Wilde Jr. matched him as they strode to the second hole all tied up.
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Marty Wilde Jr. makes the lonely walk towards the clubhouse.
Next up was a long par-5 dubbed Hogans Alley in honor of the great Ben Hogan, who won the 1953 British Open here at Carnoustie.
Wilde Jr. striped his tee shot down the middle with Woodman putting his tee ball to the right of the fairway but still with a good look at the hole and a decent lie. Both approaches came up a little short of the green, although Wilde Jr. would have to maneuver his third shot up and over a greenside bunker.
Playing first, Guy put the pressure on Marty as his effort came to rest just inches from the hole for a tap in birdie. Wilde Jr. proceeded to hit his chip well right and past the pin, some 13 feet away. Needing to run home his putt to keep pace with Woodman, Wilde Jr. blew his birdie attempt 3 feet past the hole and then astonishingly missed the comebacker for par. Woodman now held a two stroke lead with just one hole remaining.
I was really, really devastated. I just thought well thats it, its all over ' two shots behind. Ive thrown it away, said a visibly upset Wilde Jr. on the sudden turn of events. I felt that I had just hit the ol self-destruct button again.
Woodman put the final nail in the coffin as he knocked one down the center of the fairway at the last hole forcing Wilde Jr. to pull out driver and try to make something happen. Something did happened, but it was yet another blow to Wilde Jr., who pulled his tee shot left and O.B.
He rebounded nicely however, and was able to make a birdie on his second ball, but it was a 5 on the scorecard and not enough to overtake Woodman, who also had a 5 on the final hole for a two-stroke win.
The final four was now set: Woodman, Blankvoort, Valentine and Holtby.
This whole trip has been a rollercoaster for me, and I have been up and down hugely. And it can work for you or against you. You can hit some inspirational shots and then you can hit some really bad shots, said the departing Wilde Jr. on his emotions throughout the show.
You cant do anything but really like Marty, he is such a good guy, a heart of gold, said Blankvoort about his now former teammate. And hes funny.

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.
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