Big Break II Finale Goes Extra Holes

By December 14, 2004, 5:00 pm
Big Break II LogoThe final episode of the Big Break II aired on the Golf Channel Tuesday night as the two finalists, Don Donatello and Kip Henley, squared off against each other at the Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas in 18-holes of match play.
At stake were exemptions into four Nationwide Tour events in 2005, as well as $10,000 cash and a sleek new Ford 500.
Even though we both wanted to kick each other's heads in, we still had a lot of respect for each other, said 35-year-old Donatello about the match up.
'I was not feeling any confidence at all standing there,' added Henley about starting off the match.
The Big Break IIShaking off first tee jitters, both players striped their opening tee shots down the fairway to get the match underway. Both made routine pars on the par-4 first hole before moving on to the par-5 second.
A wayward shot from a greenside bunker that flew the green cost Donatello dearly, as Henley was able to win the hole with a par and draw first blood.
Both players then halved the next two holes before arriving at the par-4 fifth. Henleys tee shot found a fairway bunker and then he added to his troubles when his resulting approach never left the sand. Donatello rolled in his par putt to even the match at all square.
A miraculous save at the par-3 sixth from Henley was all for naught, as Donatello center cut his birdie putt to go 1-up. Both players proceeded to birdie the par-5 seventh and then Donatello made a big statement by rolling home a 15-footer on the par-4 eighth for his third birdie in a row and a solid 2-up advantage.
Henley came right back however at the par-3 ninth, nearly holing his tee shot en route to a birdie to cut Donatellos lead to just 1-up.
The players halved the next three holes and came to the par-4 12th where a little controversy was sparked by a ruling involving Donatello getting relief from a sprinkler head on the fringe of the green.
Henley shook off the matter by draining a birdie putt to get the match back to all square, then missed an opportunity to go 1-up when he just missed a birdie try on the following hole.
'That was the most angry I have ever been on a golf course,' said Donatello in frustration after some sloppy play. 'It was really poor that I handled myself like that but it just tells you how important one shot could make the difference between winning and losing.'
The match seesawed over the next two holes with Henley winning the 14th with a simple par and Donatello fighting back at the 15th with a wonderful up-and-down for birdie to even the match once again.
With three holes to play and the match all square, Henley blew a golden chance to seize control when he left his birdie effort dead in the heart but just an inch short. They both made pars on the par-4 17th and then headed to the 18th to try and decide who would become the winner of the Big Break II.
After both players hit quality tee shots, Donatello stuck his approach 20 feet from the flag and then watched as Henley uncharacteristically 'chilly chunked' his attempt into the front bunker.
With Donatello almost assured of a two-putt par, Henley needed a miracle up-and-down to stay alive. With lady luck apparently on his side, Henley lofted his sand shot to within several feet and knocked in the putt to stave off elimination.
It was on to sudden death and Henley could all but taste victory on the first extra hole but watched in horror as his birdie effort came agonizingly close, coming to rest hanging over the edge of the cup.
On the second playoff hole, Donatello hit the par-5 green in two but was well short of the flag. Henley's approach, meanwhile, nestled up to within 10 feet of the pin and he was looking at an eagle for the win.
Donatello's long lag putt came to rest 6 feet short of the cup and he dodged a bullet when Henley's eagle effort burned the edge of the cup.
The Big Break IIAs Henley tapped in for birdie, Donatello sized up his putt that would extend the match. His effort had the line but unfortunately didn't have enough speed as the ball stopped just inches from the cup giving Henley the hard fought win.
'I just stepped over a huge hurdle in my golf career.' said the visably emotional Helney. 'An old caddie friend told me a long time ago, 'Kippie old boy, just keep walking up that mountain, the sun will be shining.'
'I can now see the sun.'
'This is hard to swallow even though a good guy won,' said a very disappointed Donatello. 'I honestly thought this was my last straw. I'm going to try to keep my head held high and be proud of myself and to think I came out of here a winner, even though, I didn't get all the great things that Kip got.'
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.