Golf as a Four Letter Word

By Big Break ProducerJune 11, 2013, 2:00 am

Golf has the uncanny ability to crush one’s soul.  I mean, just pull it out, spit on it, and stomp it into the dirt kind of devastation.  Anyone who’s ever played this game, especially on any sort of competitive level, has felt this.  For me, it was 4 putting the final hole of a match in High School while my teammates watched helplessly.  All competitive sports has that “thrill of victory/agony of defeat” kind of dichotomy, but for one reason or another, the negative side of this coin seems to be that much worse in the game of golf.  Maybe it’s because it’s all up to you.  When things go wrong, it’s all on you.  A shot isn’t missed because someone else came up and blocked it.  A putt isn’t missed because someone else made an incredible kick save.  Sure, some players blame the wind, a bad yardage, or even the equipment itself.  But really, whatever defense mechanism you use to cover up doesn’t hide the fact that you failed because you didn’t hit the shot needed to win.  Of course, there are moments in this game where your opponent just flat out beats you.  It happens, and it still sucks…but I’m not talking about those times.  I’m talking about those times where everything’s there for the taking…and you screwed it up.

Welcome back, friends, to my (Big Break Lead Producer, Brendan Havens) incoherent thoughts and ramblings as it pertains to this week’s heart wrenching/cringe inducing episode of Big Break Mexico.

In a week where we saw Team Olmec regain their mojo, Team Maya reach their boiling point with Chad and Rob call it quits on his team; there’s one moment that stood out above them all.  Matt’s soul crushing defeat at the hands of Jay, and mainly, himself.

To begin, Matt was in the unenviable position of having to avoid obtaining a third strike for his team.  That’s enough pressure to begin with.  Next, he had to choose between 1 of 2 very solid competitors to play against.  Liebelei or Jay.  Personally, I think Liebelei would have been the better choice, but as it played out, Matt really did make the right choice.  He had EVERY opportunity in the world to beat Jay in that 2 hole match.  He just couldn’t hit the shot necessary to seal the deal…and that’s what makes his breakdown that much worse.  He did it to himself.  But, in thinking about this further, there’s more to the demoralizing nature of this defeat than just the fact that Matt, essentially, did it to himself.  His personal failures directly affected three other people.  His teammates.

The fact that he is now to blame for a third member of Team Aztec facing the chopping block in next week’s episode, has to make his collapse hurt that much worse.  I know when I was in the middle of folding like a cheap suitcase on that green in that match in High School, I was just as devastated about letting my teammates down as I was about failing myself at something that I was in complete control of.   Letting people down just plain sucks and letting yourself down sucks even more.

This was a major turning point in the series and as a Producer, watching it unfold on the sidelines was wild.  For months, we had known that episode 4 would be the last day for the strikes.  Now that the day had arrived and the events that were to transpire were unfolding right in front of us; the simple scenario of either Matt or Jay losing the match held SO much weight toward the storylines for Elimination Day.  One poorly judged shot from 44 yards completely changed the outlook of the competition.  With that one moment in time, we went from all three teams having at least one person eliminated, to Team Maya staying fully intact thru the 1st Elimination Day and Team Aztec facing near complete elimination.  Heady stuff and a heady proposition that Matt, and team Aztec, will have to face in next week’s episode.

As part of our daily (and nightly) production duties, we’re all assigned specific contestants to interview at the end of each day.  Matt was one of the contestants that I interviewed every day that he was in the competition.  In my many years of Big Break interviews, I’d be hard pressed to name another person, outside of someone who was just eliminated, who felt more defeated.  Embarrassed and searching for answers, Matt sat in that interview room at a crossroads in his place in the competition.  He couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of what had happened hours earlier.  All he could do was to try and move on and find a way to turn today’s failure, into tomorrow’s success.  And that is where the true spirit of a professional golfer exists.  Will a soul crushing defeat define the failure of your past, or will it define the success of your future?
 

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.

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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.”


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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.”