You Gotta Know When to Hold em

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerJune 7, 2011, 2:00 am

A great man once said, “I love it when a plan comes together”.  Those simple, yet poignant words were spoken week after week by John “Hannibal” Smith as leader of “The A-Team”.  OK, so they’re not words from Twain, Frost or Dickens, but hey; words are words and a point made is a point made.  I choose to follow the gospel of Hannibal when it comes to beautifully executed moments of TV entertainment.  The moment that I specifically speak of this week is none other than the “Blackjack Challenge” from this week’s episode.

In order to comprehend the feeling of satisfaction/relief that a Big Break Producer feels when a challenge goes exactly as planned, you must understand how much preparation goes into the challenge actually making it to the “competition” stage of the show’s production.  Months prior to any cameras rolling or even the show’s location having been selected, these challenges and show plans are conjured up by me and the other members of the production team as we prepare for the eventual filming of the next Big Break season.  In order to determine if a challenge will work, all possible scenarios and storylines that could erupt from each challenge are investigated as we place them within the framework of the series.  Once the location for the next Big Break has been selected and we have the opportunity to walk the golf course in search of locations for every challenge for all ten episodes (usually happens 6-8 weeks before filming occurs), we can then make the determination as to whether the challenge(s) can be executed as we initially planned.  Once they pass that test, the challenge is officially added to the show plan and will then wait its turn as its spot in the series approaches.  So really, any specific challenge lives for many months before the first actual shot is struck, and we can see whether it actually works out as we had envisioned.

The Blackjack Challenge was actually an idea that had its first go around during the first Reunion series of the Big Break (Big Break VII: Reunion).  The challenge format itself was slightly different from that seen in this week’s episode, but the results were just as entertaining; (Ashley Gomes won the challenge in a playoff).  So, when this whole money concept came about for Indian Wells, we immediately thought of bringing back some variation of the Blackjack Challenge from Reunion.  The one catch was, we needed to replicate the “card-grid” in order for the challenge to even have a chance of being successful.  What made this task even more challenging was that the original sketches of the grid from Reunion did not exist anymore.  So, what did I have to do?  I had to pull from our tape library the actual show itself from the Reunion season and piece together the dimensions and card order based on the video and audio during the challenge.  Thankfully, all the necessary info was there and I was able to construct an accurate, to-scale replica on a sheet of paper which would become the blueprint for our props-department (copies of that piece paper is what you saw Carl, David, “Shank” and Russell looking at during the challenge, btw).

So, after these many months of much effort, I’m sure you can understand how excited we were as the two Blackjack matches unfolded.  Of course we were thrilled to see a Blackjack right out of the gates…but to watch Carl bluffing David…well, that’s what we were especially giddy about in that moment.  The structure and nuances of the challenge were happening and that itself would have been rewarding enough until…Russell.

Oh, Russell.  As if we couldn’t have been happier with the entertainment value of the first match, we were then privy to “the decision”.  Now, what made me so unbelievably happy about this moment was that yet another major aspect of the challenge structure was playing out perfectly right in front of our own eyes.  The challenge was won…and Russell didn’t know it.  And then for him to think so hard about what he was going to do…I’m not sure we could have imagined this moment coming together any better than how it actually did.  I love it when a plan comes together.

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.