Team USA Bloodied Yet Not Defeated


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.
With the teams all evened up after last weeks elimination of Richard from the European team, the contestants learned that the Mulligan Challenge was back in action but with a slight twist in the format.
Big Break IV
T.J. Valentine uses a little body english in his effort to keep his tee shot on line.
Not only was their putting skills to be tested but also their collective knowledge of golf history as well. For each correct answer to a trivia question, the teams would be moved closer to the hole. Each player from the five man teams would get two putts from the distance determined by the trivia portion of the challenge.
The team with the most putts made would then be granted a mulligan to be used during the Immunity Challenge.
The Europeans correctly answered four of the five questions which left them with a mere four foot putt. The Americans on the other hand, could only muster one out of five and had to face a 12 foot putt.
It was good for moral, its good for our confidence, and it gets you going for the day, said Marty Wilde Jr. following Europes rather easy win in the trivia contest. Rather than starting out on a low one, were sort of on a high already. So that was good.
The big difference and advantage between the teams putts quickly became apparent as the USA managed to make just three putts. The Europeans only needed two players to exceed that total giving them another easy win over their U.S. counterparts.
Its a reoccurring pattern ' we do not make them beat us. We do not challenge them, observed USA Captain Paul Holtby on his teams inability to put up much of a fight.
It was now on to the all-important Immunity Challenge where the teams faced a tough long iron shot to determine which squad would be guaranteed a spot in next weeks episode.
From 180-yards out, each player had a maximum of four chances to land their ball in a 40 foot circle painted around the hole. Each miss would add to their score and the team with the higher score would head into the Elimination Challenge.
Cap (captain Holtby) sees the way Im hitting them on the range and hes like, Randall, player, youre going first. Youre leading the charge. And Im like, cool, get me in there, recalled a confident Randall Hunt of Team USA.
But he and his teammates confidence was short lived as the U.S. racked up a total of 16 shots compared to just 11 for the Euros and earned another trip to the Elimination Challenge.
It was such a relief. You dont have to go through all that tension (of the Elimination Challenge), all that nervous wait, said Guy Woodman of the European side. You can just basically put your feet up and relax.
No competition. It was a pummeling again, countered Holtby, of the sorry state of the U.S. side. And that is the way our pattern has gone so far.
Due to their win in the Immunity Challenge the Euros also won the right to compete in the Ford Prize Challenge, which offered a two year lease on a Ford Explorer to the contestant who could land his ball in a 6 foot circle around the flagstick. Their luck, however, had already run out as nobody was able to find the mark.
The focus then shifted squarely back onto the Americans as they now had to compete against each other to see who would follow former teammate Bart Lower off the show.
Big Break IV
For David Carnell, the party was suddenly over.
In the Elimination Challenge driving distance and accuracy were the keys for success and also the key to survival. Each player would attempt three tee shots, and points were then awarded on an escalating scale combining distance and accuracy. There were to be three rounds, with the top two point earners after Rd. 1 earning instant exemptions into next weeks show. In Rd. 2 the lowest duo would then head into a final round face-off to determine the loser.
In Rd. 1 both Hunt and Captain Holtby good off to great starts by tallying enough points to garner the instant exemptions.
This is business to me. This is how I pay for my living and I pay for my kids well being, said Holtby after advancing. Its one more step in the ultimate goal.
Tommy Gainey then out pointed the competition in round two, leaving T.J. Valentine and David Carnell in the battle to stay alive.
Valentine fired first and put two of his three attempts into the scoring grid to gain a respectable nine points.
Nine is a pretty good score in terms of putting pressure on somebody, said Valentine. I walked away saying, You know what? Its outta my hands now.
Im getting over the ball and obviously Im getting a little nervous at this point, but Im not like shaking or anything, said Carnell about what would be the final swings of the day.
After misfiring on his first two shots, Carnell needed the shot of his life to either tie or surpass Valentine.
I have no control over whats going to happen! I have no control over if Im staying or not, said an obviously nervous Valentine as Carnell approached his final shot.
Carnell let fly a monster tee shot only to then watch it not cut to his liking, leaving him just shy of taking out Valentine.
I pured it. I hit the best drive I could in the situation, recalled Carnell on his final shot of the Big Break IV.
Ill be alright. Ive been through a lot worse, being homeless and all this other stuff. The high and lows of my life have been pretty crazy, offered Carnell afterwards. I just wish I couldve hung out a little bit longer and showed the world a little bit more of what I had. But you know, the partys over. It wont be as much fun without me I can tell you that much!

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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  • Contestant Bios