Bittersweet Motel

By Brendan Havens, Big Break ProducerJuly 12, 2010, 10:20 pm

Judging by the overwhelming distain a lot of you have voiced concerning the “Save/Send” during the early stages of the series (yes, we do read the comment boards and the Facebook posts), my guess is that the first couple minutes of this week’s episode did not exactly have you standing and applauding. On the other side of the coin though, those few who are fans of this highly subjective twist must have been grinning from ear to ear. This was by far the most random, luck-determined stunt that we’ve ever pulled in the history of Big Break, and even to this minute, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Before delving into this matter even deeper, I’m going to let everybody into the inner production circle and give you a blow-by-blow of how this whole thing played out up to the point of Seema’s discovery.

Within the first couple days of our arrival on the island of Great Exuma (approximately 1 week before the competitors showed up), we pulled one of the chairs from around the breakfast table and had our props department fit the bottom of the chair with a small shelf that would hold the “Save/Send” sign. It was constructed in a way so that the only way it was visible was to literally get down on the floor and look underneath the chair. This chair was then put back around the breakfast table, where it would remain for the duration of the series.

Flash forward to the evening filming for the episode entitled, “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat…” At around 11:30 p.m., the final interviews were being wrapped up, and the ladies were making their way into bed for some much deserved rest. Our contestant coordinator was keeping a close eye on the eight remaining competitors. Once they’re all sound asleep, the “Save/Send” will be placed underneath the appropriate seat. Now, of course, we’ve known for quite some time what chair contains that secret shelf. So naturally, the crew in charge of shooting breakfast had been keeping a close eye on who’d been sitting in that seat on a regular basis. The consensus from the crew was that Ryann had been sitting in that seat every morning.

The next morning, on my way to grab some breakfast, I passed by the crew that was shooting breakfast. “Some drama this morning!” One of the camera guys said to me as we crossed paths. 

“Who got the ‘Save/Send’?” I ask, fully expecting him to say that Ryann did. When I heard him say, “Seema,” I was shocked. Apparently, what had happened was that Ryann had been having a conversation with someone before sitting down, and while this was going on, Seema sat down in the “lucky” chair. Needless to say, Carling echoed the cast and crews sentiments best when she said, “Seema’s getting all the members bounces.”

Clearly, this whole twist did not sit well with the other ladies (especially Ryann), and even Seema was a little uncomfortable with the whole thing as well. Sure, she got immunity and is on her way to the next show, but Seema, being the lovable people-pleaser that she is, was not exactly feeling great about her housemates being so upset at something she was a part of. A bittersweet situation if I ever did see one.

So, is Seema still on the show because of pure luck? Depends on how you look at it. She did get let off the hook by Kelly in the second episode of the season. She did get “saved” by Greg Norman two weeks ago, and she did sit in the right seat at breakfast this week. By those accounts, Seema’s very existence on Big Break to this point is absolute luck. However, don’t be so quick to make that assumption before you look closely at so much of what happened in this week’s episode. A few others can attribute the reason they’re sticking around for another week due to a member’s bounce (or two).

Ryann missed going in the trees in the first challenge by a couple feet and then gets immunity by mere fractions of an inch in the second challenge. By most accounts, that’s pretty lucky. Lili’s second shot in the first stage of the Elimination Challenge rolled off the green, but then miraculously found its way back on. She gets 1 point and is on to the next show. Who knows what would have happened if she ended up in a three-way playoff with Chris and Stacey? And that is exactly what it all comes around to: The good ol’ “what if.” What if Ryann sat in the “lucky” seat instead of Seema? Does that automatically mean Seema gets eliminated? Of course it doesn’t. By all accounts, luck plays a starring role in the game of golf every time the ball is teed up, and Big Break is no different in that respect.

So, how do I feel about the “Save/Send” seat at breakfast? I feel like it lent itself to some interesting conversations and very emotional responses. Was it fair to the competition? I’ll leave that one up for debate.

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Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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Only putting is holding McIlroy back

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.

Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida

“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”