Chips Continue to Fall in Vegas


Big Break II LogoEditors Note: The Golf Channel aired the fourth episode of The Big Break II Tuesday night, where 10 highly skilled golfers compete in a weekly showdown of skills challenges. The last man standing after the 11-week season wins the Big Break of his golfing career - an opportunity to compete in four Nationwide Tour events televised on The Golf Channel in 2005.
Even though two players had already been sent packing, the remaining eight competitors looked as if they were becoming a little too relaxed in the comforts of their Treasure Island penthouse.
So what to do if complacency begins to creep in?
Well, for starters, the players received an early morning surprise visit from co-hosts Rick Smith and Lesley Swanson to inform the group of a radical change in that days format.
With an even eight remaining, it seemed to be the perfect time to split the group into fours and let a little team competition decide the fate of who might be getting ousted from the show.
The two teams played four holes total with two players from each team playing the first two holes and the second pair playing the final two holes. Each group of two used a Ryder Cup-style format of alternate shot and four balls on each hole. Scoring like the Ryder Cup, the team who won the hole received a full point while a tie resulted in a half point.
The team to accumulate the most points after four holes wins the skills challenge and would receive immunity from the dreaded elimination challenge.
Our team on paper, you know, looked to be a little stronger, said team captain David Gunas Jr., who chose Bart Lower, Kip Henley and Don Donatello for his side. But in a two hole matchmy God.
John Turk, as captain of the other squad, picked Scott Yancy, Mike Foster and Sean Daly, who quickly dubbed themselves Team Penthouse.
The first mini-match, which consisted of captain Gunas Jr. and Lower going against captain Turk and Yancy, started off with a bang as Gunas rolled in a 25-footer for birdie to steal the first point of the match.
The Big Break IITheir luck, however, ran out on the ensuing four ball hole, as both Gunas and teammate Lower hit their drives into waist high heather and were unable to find their balls. Team Penthouse easily won the hole and picked up the much-needed point to tie the score at one apiece.
The match then moved on to the second set of players as the emotions and drama were ratcheted up a notch, particularly for one of the competitors.
I believe that if youre going to win this, you cant have any feelings for anybody. You want to rip them to shreds, said Donatello, who had already ruffled a few feathers with his competitive spirit.
After hitting a mammoth drive down the right side that had the advantage of bouncing off the cart path several times, partners Daly and Foster had just 160-yards to the hole. Their approach landed just short of the green and Dalys eagled putt tailed off a bit and came to rest about three feet from the hole.
Teammates Donatello and Henley were in with a par and could only watch as Foster had a putt that looked like a mere formality.
When Mike (Foster) got up to that putt, one thing came to my mind - he had missed a three-footer before to go on that plane ride, recalled Donatello about Fosters short miss in the shows first episode. It might be entering his mind.
Sure enough, Foster pushed his putt just a little and suddenly the point was halved and the momentum had swung the opposite way.
I was flabbergasted that he missed that putt, said Donatello. And then I knew we had em!
Proving to be prophetic, Donatello and his partner Henley made routine pars on the last hole to grab a point and send Team Penthouse on the road to the elimination challenge.
The Top-Flite mulligan challenge, however, came first and some Vegas-style gambling was to play a big part in the competition.
Each of the four players was given gambling chips and had to place bets on themselves on how good they thought their putting skills were from three separate distances.
I bet half of what I had, because I thought, Why not, its Vegas! said Daly on his strategy during the mulligan challenge.
Ironically big Mike Foster, the man who had missed two of the most crucial putts in the shows first four episodes, wagered his chips the best and won the challenge handily.
It was now onto the elimination challenge and Foster for one, felt the strange dynamics of having to compete against the players who he had just gone to war with in the skills challenge.
You work so hard as a team when you team up and give each other advice, and now theyre your competitors. And you dont want to be the one going home, said Foster.
Co-host Smith and Swanson met the final four on the golf course and laid out what was involved in the elimination challenge.
Each player was to hit four shots from the same spot, but the twist was that they each had to use four different clubs. From 146-yards out, the player with the highest total distance from the pin following the four shots would be eliminated. The group would first hit three balls and have their scores tallied before moving to a final round and a final shot.
With the exception of Yancy, who used a 7, 8, 9-iron and pitching wedge, each chose to hit a 6, 7, 8 and 9-iron for the difficult challenge.
Big Mike Foster shook off his mixed emotions and led the group after the first three shots with a score of just 55 feet 7 inches. He was followed by Turk with a distance of 94 feet 10 inches, then Daly who posted a score of 119 feet 8 inches.
Yancy had put himself in a tough position with a total distance of 141 feet 1inch as the final four took aim with their last shot of the day, and for one, the last shot they would take on the Big Break.
Both Foster and Turk took care of business and watched as the battle came down to Daly and Yancy, with the advantage going to Yancy as he was left with a pitching wedge in his hands to the 6-iron Daly had remaining.
The Big Break IIDaly hit first and watched as his ball hit the green, rolled up and over a swale and then off the back ending up some 50 feet away, leaving Yancy in the drivers seat.
Sean (Daly) steps up and hits his shot 50 feet away, which leaves this huge opening for me, said Yancy on his prospects. Ive got a pitching wedge in my hand, my most comfortable club, and I only have to hit it inside 30 feet.
In what came down to one of the closest competitions in the shows history, Yancys shot landed some 30 feet away from the pin and the measuring tape was brought out to get the exact distance.
The tape showed 33 feet 11 inches.
Yancys most comfortable club, it turns out, is the one that ultimately ended up giving him the most pain.
I realized at that point that I was three feet shy from staying around another day. So my time was done, said a disappointed Yancy.
Three feet? Three feet, commented fellow competitor Turk on the outcome. Its so incredible that it could be that close.
For Daly, however, it meant something else entirely.
It was the best three feet of my life, said Daly with a relieved chuckle.
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group rolls the dice to find out who will be the unlucky fourth player eliminated from The Big Break.
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