Early Birds Get the Worms


The Big BreakThe Golf Channel aired the third episode of its 10-part original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which 10 scratch golfers from around the country compete in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges.
As is the format, one contestant will be eliminated each week until there is just one man left standing. The lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
After losing Garrett Garland in last weeks show, this weeks skills challenge and elimination challenge had everyones complete attention. Well, almost everyones.
Charles Calhoun, the shows resident clown, had overslept and in the process didnt get the kind of start hed hoped for heading into the day.
Enroute to the course for the days events, co-host Katherine Roberts jokingly told Calhoun, Charles, we were thinking you were trying out for the next reality show called Golfers Gone Wild, in reference to Calhouns rather auspicious start.
Once at the course, the group was presented with a skills challenge that would put a premium on touch and accuracy with a short iron.
Three 55-gallon drums were placed in front of each contestant. They would have 90 seconds to chip as many balls as they could into the empty barrels. The barrels were marked with three different point values - five, three and one - each depending on its level of difficulty.
The Big BreakJon Roddy was one of the first to take the challenge and he put on a display that had everyone quite impressed, including himself.
When I took my first couple of shots, the wedge that I had, the motion that I had were perfect for it, said Roddy, who posted an almost unbeatable score of 35 points.
You know, I thought I did good until I heard Jons score. I turned around and they put a 35 up there, added Jeff Brown in apparent disbelief.
Roddys high score did indeed hold up against the other eight competitors and he happily picked up a Sony Mini Hi-Fi Component System and the all-important mulligan.
Before the remaining nine knew it, the fun and games were over and the elimination challenge was upon them.
The collars are getting tighter, man. Were all buddies, but someone is going home, quipped Anthony Sorentino, adding, You're not really rooting against anybody, youre just trying to do your best.
For the elimination challenge, the contestants were faced with three difficult greenside shots ' a long bunker shot, a chip out of U.S. Open-style rough from just off the green, and an 80-foot shot from the fringe. Each players attempts would be measured from the distance it finished from the hole, and the one with the highest average total after all three shots would miss the cut and be eliminated.
The first shot ' the bunker shot ' was a scary shot, said Justin Peters, who placed second to Roddy in the skills challenge. I just tried to go back to the basics and let my natural abilities take over.
Luckily, no one left their attempt in the bunker, although a few shots did sail the green and a couple more just managed to reach the dance floor. After the long bunker shots were concluded, Sorentino held the top spot, but Calhoun, Brown and Roddy were in a little trouble as they made their way over to the thick, nasty rough.
In this type of competition every single shot is so big, every shot, noted Brown, who landed his chip close to the pin. Its not just the swing that comes into play, its your thoughts, your emotions. Its everything.
The results were varied coming out of the thick stuff, with the 26-year-old Peters jumping into the lead, but more importantly, it was Mark Farnham, Randy Block, Calhoun and Brown who were in hot water and starting to feel the pressure of the final shot.
The Big BreakThats probably the most nervous Ive ever been because of the fact that if I hit it short and it goes back down, I know Im packing my bags, said Block, whose performance in the first two shots wasnt cutting it. His final shot of the day nestled close to the target area and he would survive to see another day.
It finally came down to Calhoun, who had flown the green with his bunker shot and barely advanced his ball on the chip from the rough. Needing a miracle, Calhouns final shot was solid, finishing 10 feet from the pin, but it was not close enough to overcome the position he had put himself in.
Somebodys gotta win, somebodys gotta lose. Unfortunately it was me, but life still goes on, said an understandably dejected Calhoun, whose late start in the morning led to an earlier than expected exit that evening.
It was a shame to see him go. I was really disappointed it was him but it could have been any one of us, said Craig Pawling, voicing the opinion of most of the competitors. But that just goes to show you how this game works.
Be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel next Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group will face a shot Phil Mickelson has made famous The remaining eight square off in another round of tough challenges to see who will survive and who will miss the cut.
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