Carnoustie Claims First Victim


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 12 contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
After an episode in which the U.S. and European teams got a chance to size each other up, the stakes were raised in episode 2 as co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks informed the men that someone would be eliminated at the end of the day.
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Thomas Blankvoort of team Europe watches in delight as his shot shatters the glass during the Mulligan Challenge.
Starting out with the glass breaking Mulligan Challenge, each team had six panes of glass, each with one of the team members name on it. In relay race-like fashion, each player had to step up and break his own pane, with the team who managed to break all the glass first being declared the winners.
Trouble quickly struck, however, for Team USA as Tommy Gainey struggled to keep his shots low enough to break the target. Struggle though, may not be a strong enough word, as the entire European team methodically stepped up and took care of business, leaving a frustrated and disappointed Gainey still up at the plate.
It made me feel bad, said Gainey on his inability to get the job done. I felt like I let my team down. And my country.
We took a kick in the butt again. I mean that was a big kick in the butt. And I hate getting beat, added T.J. Valentine about the lopsided affair.
It was now on the Immunity Challenge where whichever team prevailed would be spared from the first Elimination Challenge of The Big Break IV.
Stationed in a fairway bunker on the 18th hole at Carnoustie, each player had to play out the hole in as few a strokes as possible. The team with the highest aggregate total would then be forced toward elimination.
And once again, team USA dug itself in a hole early with some poorly executed shots from the bunker. Down three shots with three players still to play, Team USA couldnt make up the difference as the Europeans continued their steady, if not spectacular, play.
Everybody did what they could, trying to hit solid shots. But we as a team failed. It wasnt any one (in particular) failure, but a team, summed up David Carnell about the teams third straight defeat.
The Americans now had the dreaded task of going into the Elimination Challenge where a teammate was going to be sent off of the show.
After the Immunity Challenge it definitively became an individualistic game after that, said Randall Hunt on the sudden turn in the American teams mind set. It kinda went from a team camaraderie to, Hey, good luck in the challenge player.
Faced with three separate shots ' a bunker, chip and flop shot ' the players were given four attempts to land the their shot within a 10-foot radius around the hole. The player who took the most attempts combining all three of the shots would be eliminated.
Starting first with the bunker shot, only Gainey was able to hit it inside the circle on his first try. Valentine and Paul Holtby were home in two, followed by Carnell with three attempts. Bart Lower and Hunt both needed all four shots and were now in last place heading into Rd. 2.
The highest score was a four and I only had a one so I was feeling good, really good, at that point, said Gainey on his chances to be around for another show.
Using that confidence and facing the chip shot, Gainey promptly rolled his shot inside the circle, again on his first attempt.
He just stepped up, didnt even think about it, knocked it down like it was nothing, observed Carnell.
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For two-time Big Break participant Bart Lower, an early exit was assuredly not in his plans.
Holtby followed and also got it home in one, then watched as Lower got back into the mix by using a 3-wood from off the green to nestle his ball close on his first shot. Hunt, tied for last with Lower after Rd. 1, found the zone on his second attempt to keep his hopes alive.
I knew I was in last place so I needed to make something happen or I wasnt going to be sticking around for long, said Hunt.
It now fittingly came down to the flop shot, where Gainey continued his impressive run with yet another one and done shot, making a statement to both his teammates and the Euros.
Im not trying to brag or anything but I think Im the best player on the U.S. team, said Gainey.
The focus then shifted to just two players: Lower and Hunt.
Lower was first up between the two and hit what looked to be the perfect flop shot that would send Hunt packing. But the ball unfortunately hit the pin and kicked out of the target area, leaving Lower a little shaken. After over compensating on his next shot, Lower found the zone on his third attempt but in the process left the door open for Hunt.
If Hunt could nail his first shot, it would mean the end of the road for Lower.
Right now I can end it all with one shot. Lets make it happen, recalled Hunt.
Hunts shot over the bunker landed softly on the green and slowly rolled into the circle, leaving Lower for the second time in Big Break history on the outside looking in.
Im a normal guy with a normal job and a family, who always had big dreams of being a professional golfer, said an emotional Lower. Its almost the closing of a chapter into being a dad and a husband. Ill put the clubs away, again, for a while.
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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