And then there were four. In what amounted to a semi-final match, Rachel Bailey (Faulconbridge, Australia) and Gary Ostrega (Westfield, N.J.) were eliminated from The Big Break VI: Trump National in the ninth episode on Tuesday night.
After failing to earn immunity in the first challenge of the 60 minute program, Bailey was forced to play Bri Vega (North Andover, Mass.) in a two-hole stroke play competition while Ostrega faced Denny Hepler (Warsaw, Ind.) in the same format. The match was contested on the par-4 10th and the par-5 12th holes at Trump National Golf Course, Los Angeles.
Vega said on the opening tee shot she didnt feel nervous and merely wanted to play well. She did. The 24-year-old North Carolina State product made birdie on No. 10 to take a one-shot advantage over Bailey.
The lead would have been a bigger had it not been for some heroics by the Australian. After hitting her tee shot into a hazard bordering the right side of the fairway, she found the green with her third shot and then made a 30-foot putt for an improbable par.
After both players hit the fairway on No. 12, Vega all but assured herself a spot in the Championship Match by sticking her second shot to 3 feet. Bailey made birdie, but was sent packing as Vega made her short putt.
As I said from the beginning of the show, all I wanted to do was hit good shots, said Bailey.
And she accomplished her goal- Vega just hit better ones.
This experience is unlike anything I have been though, Bailey said after being eliminated. The pressure here is unreal. Im hoping this prepares me the U.S. Open.
It was Major tournament length rough - and an aggressive nature - that was Ostregas undoing. Hitting driver on the short 10th hole, he found deep rough fronting a bunker 45 yards short of the green. From a buried lie in the grass, he was only able to hack the ball over the green and then failed to get up-and-down to suffer an eventual bogey.
A birdie for Hepler gave him a two-stroke advantage with one hole remaining.
All I had to do was keep my wits about me and get the ball on the green and go on to the next show, Helper explained.
Playing an iron off the tee, the 51-year-old made another birdie while Ostrega made par.
I didnt give any pressure and he responded, is the way Ostrega summed up the outcome. I had some opportunities that I should have taken advantage of. On paper, if it were four rounds of medal play then I would be there.
But the competition is played on the golf course Big Break style and Ostrega, like Bailey, can now only watch the series unfold.
For their efforts, Vega advances to play Bridget Dwyer (Kailua, Hawaii) and Hepler will face Jeff Mitchell (Llano, Texas) to determine The Big Break VI winners.
The four remaining contestants are vying for the coveted tournament exemptions and other prizes. The female champion will receive an exemption into the 2007 SBS Open at Turtle Bay and the 2007 Longs Drugs Challenge, as well as waived entry fees for the 2007 Duramed FUTURES Tour season. The winning male contestant will receive exemptions into the 2007 Turtle Bay Championship and the 2007 Bank of America Championship, as well as waived entry fees in six events on the 2007 Heartland Players Senior Tour.
And finally, as a surprise to the contestants, the male and female champions will be joined by the eliminated contestants to compete for a chance to get into Trumps wallet! The ultimate winner of the match also will become the owner of an all new 2007 Chrysler Aspen - Chryslers first full-sized SUV.