Big Break's Annie & Kelly Provide Insight on Show 9

By Big BreakMay 9, 2014, 6:53 pm

Former Big Break Ireland competitors Annie Brophy and Kelly Jacques are back. Only this time, it is not to play on Big Break, but to lend their insight and provide some fun facts about the ladies of Big Break Florida.

Kelly: I love the dynamic of these final 5 girls. Their personalities are incredibly different and they all have very different strengths.  And wow, great shot right out of the gates by Mary during horse! But then again, you should win your own location you choose when playing the game of horse.


Annie:  I loved the Horse challenge!  This one is all about strategy – picking a shot you feel completely confident executing but would be tough for the other girls.  My favorite location was the one Sedena picked.  It looked like a pretty tough punch shot, and they had to carry a bunker as well.  I wonder if she’s so good at shots from the trees because she finds herself there frequently.


Kelly: I was very impressed with all of Renee’s shots. You can really tell she is becoming much more comfortable in these pressure-filled situations. She really came through in the last location, and definitely deserved immunity and that spot in the final 4!


Annie:  She’s a player.  I’m glad she’s stepped her game up as the season has progressed.  I was NOT impressed with Renee handing out letters to the girl with the shot farthest away from the hole.  She’s just too nice!  I thought I was finally going to see Renee single someone out, and then there she goes and hands out her letters in the most painfully diplomatic, fair way possible.  Come on, Renee! 


Kelly: The next challenge tested all aspects of their game. I felt bad for Fiamma that it took two tries to hit her drive at least 210. In Fiamma’s defense she is tiny and they are in Florida right off the ocean. AKA the ball just doesn’t fly. When you see Sadena hit a good drive and her total distance is only 245 yards…The ball’s just not flyin.


Annie: I know why you and Renee are such good friends – both too nice!  You just gave Fiamma the ocean as an excuse for being a short hitter.  It’s ok!  You can say she doesn’t hit it far!  That doesn’t mean she’s a bad player!  Of all five players, she probably is the shortest hitter – it just is what it is.


Kelly: At the next location, the girls had to hit a 110 yard shot inside 25 feet. Definitely harder than it sounds, especially when that’s what you’re focusing on.


Annie:  Well let’s think about that. That’s a 50ft diameter.  That’s over 16 yards they have to work with.  That should be a pretty easy shot from with a wedge in their hands.  That being said, always easier said than done.  That’s also why I’m writing the blog and not hitting the shots…


Kelly: The final location was an 8ft putt. Each girl had three tries to make it and put points on the board. Mary had the opportunity to win the immunity challenge but failed to convert and get it done. Mary ended up being the only one who missed that 8ft putt, which definitely got under her skin.


Annie:  Yeah, she was clearly pretty rattled.  And the awkward tension coming from that bench afterwards was palpable.


Kelly: What happens when Mary doesn’t get her way? She puts down others. She and Fiamma were talking about how Jackie didn’t deserve that immunity win. How do you figure? The only shot she missed was the 110 yard shot from the second location. If you’re upset about her winning, play better!


Annie:  Agreed.  Jackie played well and won immunity.  I think Mary was not as upset that Jackie won, just that she didn’t – especially considering that she went from first to last after her putting.


Kelly: I will say though, I love that Mary chose Sadena for the elimination challenge! Sadena has been off her game the last few days and I don’t think she expected to be picked.


Annie:  I didn’t want to see either of these girls go home!  But this has probably been the best, most well-matched elimination challenge given their abilities and personalities.  Sedena said it best: they’re both fighters!


Kelly: Right off the bat, the girls both killed their drives down the fairway but failed to hit it close for a good birdie opp. Sadena and Mary both made clutch par putts to move to the second hole of elimination all square.


Annie:  How nervous was Mary standing over that putt after her 8ft putting fiasco in the last immunity challenge?! Props to her for two good putts to close out the Elimination Challenge.


Kelly: The second hole was a par 4 over water, and Sadena literally shanked it! You definitely feel for her…especially hitting that type of shot on this show. She ends up with bogey, giving Mary a lengthy putt to win…and she made it to send Sadena home!


Annie:  So this was the first episode that I wasn’t able to watch the Monday it aired.  Foolishly, I checked my twitter Monday night so I knew Sedena had been eliminated while I was watching the show.  She’s such a great player, and she’s been fun to watch on the show.  I was so sad to see her go!


Kelly: All these girls are good at this stage but I completely expected Sadena to be in the finals. She started off hot and lost some of her confidence along the way. Throughout the show her accuracy and control proved to be the weak link in her game and that’s ultimately what cost her. She’s young and has some refining to do, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Sadena. She would make a great addition to the LPGA Tour and I hope to see her out there someday.


Annie:  I agree.  After the first episode, I think you and I both thought she would be in the finals.  In related news, she’s currently leading out on the Symetra Tour this weekend after the first round!  She’s obviously taken this experience and learned from it.  Not like she needs it, but good luck to her moving forward!

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Els: Tiger playing well validates his generation

By Doug FergusonMarch 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Tiger Woods has come close to looking like the player who ruled golf for the better part of 15 years, and Ernie Els is happy to see it.

Never mind that Els was on the losing end to Woods more than any other player.

He speaks for his generation of Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and others. Els keeps hearing about the depth of talent being greater than ever, and he has seen it. But he gets weary listening to suggestions that Woods might not have 79 PGA Tour victories if he had to face this group.

''I'm just glad he's playing like I know he can play to validate me – validate me, Phil and Vijay,'' Els said. ''We weren't bad players. This guy was a special player. To see him back, playing special stuff again ... is great for the game.''

Generational debates are nothing new.

Every generation was better than the next one. Then again, Jack Nicklaus used to lament that Woods was lacking competition from players who had more experience winning majors, such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros.

Mickelson, Els and Singh combined to win 12 majors. Els says Woods won 14 on his own because he was that much better.

Does it get under his skin to hear fans rave about this generation's players?

''It doesn't (tick) me off. Can you imagine how it must (tick) Tiger off?'' he said. ''He was leaps and bounds the best player. People forget very quickly, and then you see special players like we have now, the younger generation. But I know what I played against. You can't take anything away from anybody.''

Doug Ferguson is a golf writer for The Associated Press

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Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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This week, let the games(manship) begin

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

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Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.