Graduation Day

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerJuly 19, 2011, 12:43 pm

As I, and other Producers of Big Break, have attested to at different points in time over the course of our ramblings and incoherent thoughts via these Producer Blogs for the last seven seasons, a Big Break shoot can feel a bit like a twisted version of summer camp.  You’re away from home for weeks on end with only those on the production crew filling in as your day-to-day friends and/or enemies; there’s laughs, there’s bickering and there’s the occasional sing-along around the fire pit.  Yes, we do have some pretty damn good musicians on the crew (present company included).  We also manage to take some time out of our exorbitantly busy schedules to blow off some steam and experience the local flavor of our present location.  I mean, we HAVE to.  After all…all work and no play makes Jack…something, something…

The crew’s favorite hangout by an overwhelming margin was Agave Sunset (the Hyatt Grand Champions hotel bar) and with only one day remaining in the competition, a good portion of us had to tip a pint or two to bid adieu to our watering hole of choice for the preceding three weeks.  

So, as the final notes of The Art of Sax reverberate throughout Agave Sunset, and the crowd of billionaires, cougars and sabertooth tigers lavish their praise upon them, myself and a few of the remaining crew members take in this absolutely one-of-a-kind scene one last time before signing off.  Amidst the cacophony of cheers, drunken peripheral conversations and a wailing saxophone solo, I glance down at my watch.  It’s 1am.  In just 6 ½ short hours, David and Kent will tee it up to decide who will be crowned Champion of Big Break Indian Wells.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the h*** are these guys still at the bar at 1am the night before the finale?”  Well, to be completely honest, the select few of us still enjoying the proceedings probably should have been in bed resting up for the final day; but we had been going 100mph straight ahead for the majority of the past month, working 12-16 hour days whilst surviving mainly on Red Bull, coffee and limited sleep.  So with the shoot’s impending swan song approaching, why mess with success, right?  Also, the bar scene on a Saturday night at the Hyatt is THAT entertaining.  I urge you to check it out upon your next golf excursion to Indian Wells.  Heck, just go if you’re in the vicinity of Palm Springs, period.  I guarantee some truly entertaining bar scenes.  Man, I miss that place…but I digress…

“Finale Day” of a Big Break shoot feels a lot like graduation day.  You’re so happy and relieved that it’s all finally come to an end, but there’s definitely a bittersweet quality to the conclusion of the competition.  Cast and crew alike have been connected at the hip for the better part of three weeks and no matter how much you cannot wait to get a full eight hours of sleep in your own bed, Indian Wells was our home for the better part of a month.  And for those who’ve been to summer camp, you all know that feeling.  That last day is always a tough one.  

But, let’s put all that aside for the time being and reserve a moment for our newest champion.  David Byrne.  For one, I cannot say enough good things about this character of this kid (and yes he IS a kid…23-friggin’-years old).  For him to come into this competition with ZERO events as a professional under his belt and day after day fight his way into the next episode - - I consider this to be one of the most impressively tenacious runs to a championship that I’ve ever experienced in my Big Break career.  David plays golf the way he’s lived his young life; grinding for every little bit that he can get in order to survive through to the next day while always keeping his eye on the intended destination.  David needed this Big Break (literally and figuratively) more than many ever had before him.  Being part of a cast comprised of so many great stories (see my Series Preview blog entry), David’s was quite possibly one of the best, if not the most personal and inspirational.  So, if you think about it in that light, David was the best candidate to come out of this series with all the cash.  All the hard work he and his mom put forth just to get him in position to take advantage of a break when it finally came along, proved to be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.  First professional event, first win.  Congratulations David.  Today was YOUR graduation day.

Oh, and David…since you didn’t get a chance to frequent Agave Sunset while competing in the series, make sure you check it out when you take your trip back.  And make sure you go on a Saturday night.  Man, I miss that place…

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."

The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.