I'd Rather Eat Nails than Hit Long Bunker Shots

By Big BreakNovember 20, 2012, 8:46 pm

Week six of Big Break Greenbrier. Oh, where to begin? Let’s start at breakfast as that seems to be our normal starting ground.

Breakfast is starting to take a pattern, we all want to talk, but we just don't want to say too much before we hear the dreaded, 'the bus is here'. Talk always comes to what players thinking the challenge of the day may be, but on Big Break, guess all you want, ‘cause you'll never know.

As we finally made it out to the course, hole number three of the Old White TPC, a fairly mundane par three. That is, until you make your way to the approximately 150 foot-long green. That's right, I said 150 feet. The rules were simple enough. There were seven players and we were all going to take a shot from four different locations and you would be awarded points, ranging from seven points for the best or closest shot, to one point for the worst or furthest shot from the hole. If you made the unfortunate mistake of missing the green, you would get the dreaded goose egg.

Our first location of the day was going to be a 120 foot putt. This putt starts out kind of flat, drops severely then raises nearly five feet for the remainder of the putt. I think I got the best part of this challenge because I was going last. Watching the guys putt made the putt seem harder than I initially thought because we’re taking serious swipes at the ball. When it became my turn, I was up against a putt of about three feet and let me tell you, three feet from where we started was stupid good. I hit an amazing putt and it rolled up to just over two feet and looked for a moment like it might sneak in. Therefore, I was in the lead after one location and was very happy. I wanted to make this day as quick as possible but still had to be realistic that only two were moving forward from the first challenge.

Location two wasn't much easier. It was a long bunker shot that had to carry enormous swell and, let's be honest, long bunker shots are brutal. Add Big Break pressure and I think I'd rather eat nails. Since I was leading, I got to go first, not an easy task normally, and even worse now. I made a choice to switch sand wedges and go down to my 54 degree just to help it fly a little longer. Good choice because I hit what I thought at the time was a clear winner to about 12 feet. When the second location was over, I still led and the only real shock was that James thinned one over the green to get zero points.

On to location three. This was going to be an 80-yard shot. It was simple enough and a shot that I liked. Again leading off, so I wanted to set the bar high. I hit the shot and honestly have to grade it fair. I hit it to 12 feet, didn't kill myself, but didn't send the message that I wanted to send. Some guys hit really good shots, some average like mine. Expected to perform well in this challenge after his long putt was Rick and he did just the opposite. He seemed out of sorts and almost disinterested. At this point he was bringing up the rear and looking at going directly to the elimination challenge as the person who finished last was headed there. Three locations down and I'm still leading with one location remaining, a 160-yard shot.

Knowing after doing some math, all I had to do was hit the green with something similar to the 89-yard shot and I'd be safe and onto the next show. I hit a not-so-decent shot but it hit the green and only one person could keep me from show number seven. His name was Anthony.  Of course I was sweating because all he had to do was pretty much get it on the top level and I was done. He gave me a gift and missed the green which made me safe, along with Mark who ended up winning the challenge.

Safe and onto show seven. Very, very happy. Rick directly to elimination. Come on Rick, snap out of it buddy.

The second immunity challenge was pretty cool, to say the least. Squares were marked on the ground and you had the chance to hit your ball into the squares and get as close to blackjack or 21 as possible. The catch, your opponent couldn't know your results, just your reaction. Some players reactions seemed like they were trying to win an academy award more so than winning the challenge. First match, James vs Anthony. James went first, (funny reaction), because I like James and he scored a 20. Good score. Anthony went second, hit two great shots and scored blackjack. Win for Anthony and now James was up for elimination. Match two, Isaac vs. Chan (movie role debut). Isaac goes first, handles himself with class and sits down with a 19. Chan steps up, hits three good shots and scores 21. Well deserved but the gamesmanship wasn't needed. As Isaac so colorfully pointed out, his antics weren't appreciated by Isaac or for that matter, any of the guys watching. Regardless, final match was between Anthony and Chan. Winner is safe, loser goes up for elimination. Chan went first and scored a 20 so now it was up to Anthony. Anthony stepped up as he had been doing pretty much the entire show and got blackjack. At the revealing of the cards, Chan's reaction was not the same as his audition against Isaac and when he knew he was up for elimination, I think he knew he was getting picked. We all know Rick wasn't picking James, he loves James.

This is where I can only speak of the show from what I watched because I along with Mark and Anthony were not present for the elimination, but it was epic. From what I saw and what I've been told, the match should have ended on the first hole, but Chan got two great breaks and the match endured for what they say lasted forever. In the end, Rick prevailed to the, for lack of a better word, delight of some players. As Rick stated during the show, he wanted to shut Chan up very badly for all his talk and his self acclamation as the 'Elimination King'. You talk long enough and you get bit, just like Rick said.

Chan's ride was over and the one thing I think all the players wished, was that Chan didn’t let all the guys get to know him. We never saw the real Chan, just a lot of BS and acting. I hope he realizes that there were 11 other guys here and he should have been real and let us see him, not the circus or eating grass, giving yourself names, etc.

Oh we'll, I'm just happy to have survived and make show number seven.

Talk to you next week,

Brian Cooper

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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up


TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.