A Floppin Good Time


The Big BreakThe Golf Channel aired the fourth episode of its original series, The Big Break, Tuesday in which a group of scratch golfers vie in a weekly showdown of golf skills challenges.
Each week one contestant will be eliminated until there is just one man left standing on the tee box. That lucky winner will get the Big Break of his golfing career - exemptions into four Canadian Tour events airing on The Golf Channel in 2004.
As the motor home rambled its way through the hills of northern Michigan en route to the course, the road ahead seemed to keep the contestants on the edge of their seats. Many of them guessing what surprises were in store.
A surprise comes every half hour, it seems, spoke Justin Peters about the shows twists. Something new and exciting just keeps us on our toes. Its great.
I knew it was going to be something, but the way the day unfolded, it was definitely not what I expected, added Jeff Brown as they pulled up to the skills challenge.
A large eight-foot wall was erected next to a pear-shaped green where the players were asked to pull off a daunting flop shot over the wall to a flag tucked five paces from the fringe. Each contestant would be given two shots to get it close, with the top three advancing to the second round of the challenge.
Craig Pawling hits flop shotThe top two from the second round would then face off in a playoff to decide who would win the all-important mulligan to be used in the elimination challenge. But there was one catch ' after each round the wall was raised an additional two feet, making an already difficult shot even more treacherous.
That flop shot was unbelievable, said Orlando native Jon Roddy. To get over that first wall was a feat in itself because there is some basics mechanics that you've got to achieve to pull that shot off.
Mark Farnham, Brown and Roddy moved on to round two after wonderfully played shots to within 10 feet of the cup. Brown then fell by the wayside coming into the final round.
With the wall now standing at 12 feet, both Farnham and Roddy needed to pull off miracle shots.
The third section was even worse, said Roddy, who eventually fell to Farnham in the playoff. When the pressure is there its just a different story and to see something that tall and that close, the viewer had to be there to experience that feeling.
Golfs a game of flowing emotions, things go up, things go down, said Farnham. You win a skills challenge, things go right up. But the moment thats done, guess what, clean slate for everyone, right back to where you started. And you know what, its an elimination challenge. So next thing you know you, things are on the line again.
For the elimination challenge, a difficult long iron shot would ultimately determine whose time had run out. A green 210 yards away had two rectangles painted around the hole, with three points awarded for the smaller target, two points for the medium target and one point would be given out for anything that landed on the green but wasnt inside the first two targets.
Each contestant was given three attempts and the player that accumulated the least amount of points would be eliminated.
Its a scary thought when you've got a 210-yard approach shot into a green and its boiling down to one, two, three shots, said Brown, as the elimination round pressure began to build. Which is the difference between continuing on the next day or going home.
As the challenge unfolded, the difficulty of the shot became apparent as the small target kept scores at a minimum. A top score of three was set by Randy Block, who was the only one to knock it inside the tiny three-point area.
At the end of the challenge, two unfortunate contestants were unable to post a score and a Big Break playoff ensued. With hearts pounding and the clock ticking on what could be their last minutes on the show; Steve Duemig and Craig Pawling were again given three shots to produce a score that would stave off elimination.
I wouldnt want to put myself in that situation. The pressure wouldve been immense, added a relieved Roddy about the playoff, who was one of six golfers already safely on to the next show.
Steve Duemig struggles with long ironsPawling was first to go and with his second attempt landed a nice 4-iron in the two-point target area to put the pressure on Duemig.
When you get in front of a camera and you get under the gun and you cant breathe, you cant grip the club and you cant execute anything, then you know how tough the game is, said an obviously nervous Duemig.
With his first two shots failing to score points, it was down to one last swing to become a hero or a goat. A three pointer would have sent Pawling packing, but for Duemig, his final shot came up short, and so, too, did his quest for the Big Break.
I am what I am now ' a decent amateur, said Duemig with a laugh, although he was a little disappointed not be moving on for at least one more round.
He hung in there. He hung in there like a champion the whole week, added Roddy of the departing Duemig. And you gotta respect that!
With the field now pared down to seven contestants be sure to tune in to The Golf Channel Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET) as the group will face an unbelievable elimination challenge that has the groups emotions running high.
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