'Big Break' gets bigger with inaugural BBI

By Bailey MosierSeptember 29, 2014, 10:30 pm

LAKE OCONEE, Ga. - You know “Big Break” as the pressure-filled, high-stakes drama, perform or pack-your-bags reality competition that’s aired on Golf Channel for 21 seasons. But this week, “Big Break” gets even bigger.

Forty former contestants – 20 men and 20 women hand-picked based on their dynamic personalities and success since debuting on the show – will go head-to-head in full tournament conditions in the inaugural Big Break Invitational Reynolds Plantation at the Great Waters Course at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga. (Click here for the full field.)

The four-round tournament (Tuesday through Friday) will feature a Modified Stableford format for the first two rounds, followed by match play in the third round and a stroke-play conclusion to determine the champion.

“It’s an honor,” winner of the very first “Big Break” Justin Peters said. “This is pretty awesome. I was part of the very first ‘Big Break’ 11 years ago, and to see how much it’s grown over 20 seasons is amazing, and to be involved in the Big Break Invitational here at Reynolds Plantations is pretty amazing.”

Photos: Big Break Invitational reception, pro-am

Peters is among fifteen former “Big Break” champions in the field this week. Others include current PGA Tour and LPGA professionals, NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and once-was players who are just happy to have received the call … and the consideration.

“I had to be one of the last guys to get the call,” Kip Henley, “Big Break” winner turned professional golfer turned PGA Tour caddie, said with a chuckle. “I’m just so happy to be a part of this. The Golf Channel treats us like kings. I did not want to miss this. It’s so important for me to be here and I’m as happy as I can be.”

Make no mistake, this week is a departure from glass-breaking and immunity challenges, and is, instead, about serious golf – and serious cash: the winner scores $100K. But, there’s still a premium on fun, entertainment, and made-for-TV drama.

For evidence of that, look no further than the Henley-Don Donatello opening-round tee time.

Kip Henley and Don Donatello appeared on 'Morning Drive' to discuss the BBI

“I’m paired on Tuesday with Kip Henley who beat me (on the second season of “Big Break”), so there’ll be some banter back and forth, I guarantee it,” Donatello said.

Henley beat Donatello in a playoff in season two, and the two are now caddies on the PGA Tour - Henley loops for Brian Gay and Donatello spent the last two years on the bag for J.J. Henry. The playoff was intense, and it has provided fodder for the two in the years since.

“It wouldn’t matter if the Pope was playing with Donatello,” Henley said, “there’d be some banter back and forth. Double D is the king of the lip wedge and I’m ready for him. You gotta go to bed thinking about how you’re gonna handle Double D. He’s my buddy, I love him, but he’s unique with the lip wedge. He’s a plus-two handicap.”

Henley-Donatello won’t be the only pairing to tune in for. Also playing together are Blair O’Neal and Taylor Collins – both former champions of Big Break; Jerry Rice and Isaac Sanchez – teammates on “Big Break” NFL; and Gerina Piller and Kristy McPherson – both former U.S. Solheim Cup team members (2013 and 2009, respectively).

“I feel like my experience (on the LPGA and Solheim Cup) will be an advantage,” McPherson said. “I’ve been on tour for a long time now and have gotten to play on the big stage. … You can’t discredit anybody and you can’t count anybody out.”

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Mallory Blackwelder and Julien Trudeau met on 'Big Break' and wed this past weekend

Going head-to-head with a rival is one thing, but for Mallory Blackwelder and Julien Trudeau (pictured above), this week's format could hit a little closer to home. The two met on “Big Break” Ireland, started dating after the show's taping concluded and got married this past weekend in Kentucky. They're on their “honeymoon” this week, but if they’re pitted against each other in the final, it could be a short union.

"It'll be a coin toss," Trudeau deadpanned, when asked if his marriage could survive Blackwelder beating him. But more seriously, he said, "If we both make it to the final, we walk away with $150K, collectively. So that would be great."

Whether it's official familial ties or those of the metaphoric type, the "Big Break" bunch is one happy family and excited to be reunited this week in Georgia.

“’Big Break’ is kind of like a big family,” Donatello said. “It’s just a big ‘ol family out here and we all want, for 'Big Break,' for us to play well – the ladies to play well, the men to play well because it looks good for the show.”

When forty men and women tee it up at the Great Waters course on Tuesday, there will be no glass breaks and no wall flops. That much has changed. But one thing is certain, it's guaranteed to be must-see TV.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017, and this year will be conducted without a title sponsor. According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.