The Big Break VI Trump NationalbrTees off with First Elimination

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As Donald Trump issued his welcome to the 18 Big Break VI: Trump National contestants, his boardroom demeanor clearly suggested it was time to get down to the business of survival. Sixteen of the competitors acted on the message while Sid Corliss (Cumming, Ga.), a seasoned professional from Cumming, Ga., and Karyn Stordahl-Utecht (Brownsburg, Ind.), a former Miss Minnesota married to an Indianapolis Colt, were eliminated from the 12-week competition in a short game challenge.
 
The shows 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.
 
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.
 
Corliss and Stordahl-Utecht cant say they werent warned. Trump electrified the atmosphere in a video greeting to the contestants en route to Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles with the warning, Enjoy your view along Trump National drive, because the competition begins right now.
 
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, Calif.) was the top female with an effort resting 71 from the hole while Jeff Mitchell (Frisco, Tex.) earned male honors at 143. 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.
 
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 through the competitors and shook things up in earthquake country.
 
The twist was the six competitors who had gained immunity picked a partner of the opposite sex 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.
 
Corliss 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.
 
You get a little more comfortable with things and then you see that youre eliminated, Corliss said. Its hard.
 
If it was easy, then Trump probably wouldnt be involved.