And the sixth season of The Golf Channels popular series began with intrigue. Not knowing what was at stake, each contestant climbed steps 40 feet to an elevated tee to hit nothing more than a wedge towards the hole 65 yards away. Ashley Gomes (Pleasanton, Ca.) was the top female with an effort resting 71 from the hole while Jeff Mitchell (Frisco, Tex.) earned male honors at 14 3. Their reward for being the closest to the pin was immunity from elimination in episode one.
I was shocked and extremely happy said Gomes. The one thing no one wants to do is to be the first to leave.
The concept pits nine men and nine women competing against each other in a variety of challenges that test their skills and mental toughness for the right to compete in two Champions Tour and two LPGA Tour events, respectively. One female and one male will be eliminated from the series each week, with the two standing being crowned Big Break VI: Trump National winners.
Living up to the shows billing, Trump had something to say about who was staying and who was going home. After Sara Lynn Johnston (Williamston, S.C.), Kristy McPherson (Conway, S.C.), Albert Crews (Homer, La.) and Denny Hepler (Warsaw, Ind.) gained immunity over the next two challenges, The Donald sent tremors though the competitors and shook things up in earthquake country.
The twist was the six competitors who had gained immunity picked a partner from the remaining contestants and would team with them in episode two. Those players picked would be immune from elimination for the remainder of the first episode while the remaining six would be forced to play in an elimination challenge.
One by one the immune contestants walked the driving range looking for the intangible that would make a relative stranger a teammate. Like a puppy liberated from the pound, those picked hugged their rescuer while the others felt the sting of playground rejection.
Im like the kid not being picked in dodge ball, explained a dejected Bri Vega (North Andover, Mass.), one of those not picked and forced to play in the elimination challenge. No one wanted me as a partner.
Making the rejection worse, The Donald also added incentives to stave off elimination by revealing the ultimate winner of The Big Break VI would receive what he called a really big check that would be personally presented during the champions trip to Trump Plaza in New York. They would also win a 2007 Chrysler Aspen.
Those prizes, however, were in the distant future as the six players not chosen headed to the elimination challenge.
The final showdown dissected each players short game. From three locations ' a 20 yard pitch, a shot from deep greenside rough and a blast from a greenside bunker ' the contestants had up to four shots to hit their ball in a circle on the green. Players were awarded points for how many shots it took to hit the target. The player with the highest total was eliminated.
Corlisss hopes were dashed early as he took three shots on each of the first two locations to be eliminated while Kelly Murray (Reston, Va.) and Gavin Slabbert (Orange Park, Fla.) advanced.
In the ladies showdown, Stordahl-Utecht started fast by tallying one point with a deft pitch shot but took the maximum of five points while trying to get out of the rough., Needing only three points to advance after Vega and Annie Mallory (Las Vegas, Nev.) each suffered five point efforts in the bunker, Stordahl-Utecht couldnt get out of the hazard and was once again tagged with five points and sent packing.
If it was easy, then Trump probably wouldnt be involved.
The 16 remaining contestant are still 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.
In addition, winners receive the finest tools to make the most of their appearances at some of golfs most highly anticipated tournaments. Adams Golf will present the winners with an Adams Golf endorsement contract to keep them on top of their games. Also, NetJets, the worldwide leader in private aviation, will provide five hours of flight time to each winner so they may travel with the ultimate in safety, service and reliability.
To keep the champions fueled and energized when they are on the road, the McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola will provide the winners with a $1,000 Arch Card to be used at McDonalds restaurants.
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.
Looking to Next Week
The competitors try to bring out the best in their partners as the newly formed teams go head to head in a battle for survival. Challenges include the shape a shot wall and the weak link challenge.