Big Shot Big Disappointment

By February 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
The Big Break IIIEditors note: The Golf Channels Big Break III ' Ladies Only is the third installment of this hit television series. As the title suggests however, this season is just for the ladies. The 10 contestants will be vying for entry into select LPGA tournaments, including the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.
With the first player already eliminated from the show, the following morning was a bit of a wake up call, both literally and figuratively.
It all kind of sunk in, said Debbie Dahmer, about the absence of Tasha Browner at the breakfast table. Every morning there is going to be one less chair here.
In the days first event, the Mulligan Challenge, co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks had the ladies split up into three teams of three. With scoring circles painted around the pin, each team spun a wheel to determine which of five different short game shots ' greenside bunker, pitch shot, under a tree, long bunker shot or downhill lie - they would have to attempt.
The team that won the challenge would all receive a mulligan in the upcoming Skills Challenge.
The team of Valeria Ochoa, Liz Uthoff and Felicia Brown went first had to hit from a downhill lie over a bunker from about 15 yards off the green. With each player attempting two shots, Team 1 tallied a total of 10 points.
Next up was the team of Jan Dowling, Sarah Sasse, and Pam Crikelair who faced a greenside bunker shot. As a team, they amassed 12 points and then had to watch to see if the score would hold up.
Next up was the team of Cindy Miller, Debbie Dahmer and Danielle Amiee. Down to their last shot and behind by just a single point, Millers pitch shot finished up in the middle target area, good enough for two points and the victory.
These mulligans are huge and I just lost two mulligans for my teammates, said Sasse about coming up empty in her two efforts. I felt so bad.
Next, it was on to the Skills Challenge where the winner would be exempt from the shows second Elimination Challenge.
The contestants were asked to hit three tee shots in an effort to reach a landing area that measured 30 yards by 30 yards down the fairway. The player then had the opportunity to hit however many balls that came to rest in the landing area ' whether that be one, two, or three ' to the green.
Ultimately, the player closest to the pin would be granted immunity from the Elimination Challenge.
After all nine contestants attempted their drives, two of the players - Crikelair and Sasse - were able to hit the grid on all three shots, while three of the players hit it twice and four players only found the landing area once.
My confidence is a little lower than it should be, said Crikelair on her overall lack of experience. So to put three in (the landing area), that really felt good.
It was at this time, however, that Crikelair was about to turn the tables on the shows producers and supply a little twist of her own. Not to mention give herself a huge shot of the self confidence she thought she was lacking.
Using a short iron from the fairway, Crikelair ' the first player to hit her approach shots ' left her opening attempt well short and then sent her second flying over the pin. She was down to her final approach shot.
I said OK, It would be such a shame if you put three great tee shots in the grid and didnt even put pressure on the next person, said Crikelair on her final approach.
As her last shot sailed through the air toward the green, several of the players later recalled that they thought the ball would come up short and indeed it did ' by about a foot, before releasing and spinning right and into the cup.
That was her first ever eagle, marveled Dahmer, on what is being hailed as the best shot in Big Break history. To do it when the cameras are rolling, no one will ever be able to take that away from her.
It was great to hit the shot of my short career with the girls there watching, said an excited Crikelair. It made a statement to some of the women. Even though Im new, I can still compete and give you a run for your money.
With Crikelairs ball resting in the hole, the rest of the ladies tried to achieve another miracle shot, but predictably no one could duplicate the shot giving Crikelair the well-deserved immunity.
It was now down to the Elimination Challenge where the contestants would each be asked to hit an approach shot from 170-yards out. The two closest to the pin would be safe from elimination while the final six would move on to hit a shot from the fairway rough. The two closest from there also would move on to the next show. The last four would then proceed to hit a long bunker shot, the one furthest from the hole becoming the shows second causality.
Dahmers pressurized approach nestled up to within 6 feet of the hole, good enough to advance to the next show with Sasse, whose effort also found close range.
From the 110-yards out from the right rough, both Uthoff and Aimee struck fine wedge shots as they too were able to stave off elimination. It was now down to the final four to see who was going home.
From the fairway bunker, Brown started things off by hitting her shot thin from the sand and watched as it flew the green and into a bunker ' 56 feet from the hole. Dowling then stepped up and smoothed her attempt to within 15 feet of the cup, thus moving on to the next day. Ochoa, hitting third, caught a little too much sand and found her effort well short of the green, then waited nervously for the measurement ' 46 feet.
Cindy Miller was last and now stood in the sand holding both her and Browns fate in her hands.
Im glad I was last, but then I thought that I had all the pressure on me again, said Miller. But thats a good thing. In needed to be a big girl, suck it up and hit a golf shot.
Miller shot was true, landing on the front of the green and leaving Brown the odd lady out.
When they called me and said I had a chance to live my dream, that was a dream come true, said an emotional Brown. One chance. Thats all I have ever asked for.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET) to see who can survive the rollercoaster ride and whose dream will come to an end.
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    Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:27 pm

    The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.

    While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.

    It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.

    There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.

    Vogel started the year with only conditional Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a tournament.

    "The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."

    Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.

    While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.

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    Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:01 pm

    Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.

    Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.

    This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.

    Woods' commitment also means a packed schedule will only get busier leading into the Ryder Cup, where he is expected to be added as a captain's pick. Woods' appearance at the BMW will cap a run of five events in six weeks, and should he tee it up in Paris it could be his seventh start in a nine-week stretch if he also qualifies for the 30-player Tour Championship.

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    Handing out major grades: From A+ to F

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 5:00 pm

    The Masters is 237 days away, which means these definitive major grades will hang on players like a scarlet letter for nearly eight months.

    OK, maybe not.

    Brooks Koepka, obviously, gets an A+. He won two majors, and became just the fourth player to take the U.S. Open and PGA in the same season, and did all of this while overcoming a career-threatening wrist injury at the beginning of the year. Very impressive.

    Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari – you passed with flying colors, too. Reed showed that he can access his best stuff in an event other than the Ryder Cup, while Molinari’s three-month heater culminated with him surviving a wild final day at Carnoustie to hoist the claret jug. Welcome to the major club, gents.

    As for everybody else? Hey, you’ve now got plenty of time to recover, reassess and round into form in hopes of improved marks in ’19.


    Grade: A

    Why: Sure, a few shots from his major season will linger for years – his too-cute pitch shot on Carnoustie’s 11th hole and his sliced drive on Bellerive’s 17th immediately come to mind – but let’s not forget how far we’ve come: Two years ago, Woods could barely walk because of debilitating back pain; at this time last year, he’d just exited a treatment facility for overusing his pain/sleep medications, following an embarrassing DUI arrest. Now, he’s top 30 in the world, with a pair of top-6s in the majors and undoubtedly the most stirring final round of the year, in any event, with his career-best Sunday 64 at the PGA. If you still think that Tiger doesn’t have what it takes to win another major, you’ve lost touch with reality.


    Grade: B+


    Why: He was one of only two players (Webb Simpson) who finished top 20 in all four majors, and he’ll probably look back at 2018 as a year in which he easily could have bagged a second title. At the U.S. Open he was only one shot off the lead after 54 holes but stumbled on the final day. A month later, he tied for second at The Open, but only after a weekend rally once he made the cut on the number. Across all four majors he had the best cumulative score to par of any player (12 under). This was a what-could-have-been year.


    Grade: B

    Why: His 65-67 finish at the Masters left him one shot back of Reed, but it felt like the final obstacle had been cleared. Nothing was stopping Fowler now – he proved he could go low when it counted. Except then he imploded with an 84 in the third round of the U.S. Open and shot over par in both weekend rounds at The Open, before again getting into the mix at the PGA. Alas, battling an oblique strain, he regressed each round after an opening 65 and tied for 12th. Maybe next year …


    Grade: B

    Why: Give him credit: He played better in the majors than he did the rest of the season. He shot an electric 64 on the final day at the Masters (though he’ll rue his tee shot on the 72nd hole) and grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead at The Open, despite not having his best stuff. That he shot a birdieless 76 on the final day was more a product of his form this year than succumbing to major pressure. Like Kopeka, he’s figured out how to perform when the lights are the brightest.


    Grade: B

    Why: With the completeness of his game, it’s a little surprising that he hasn’t given himself better chances to break through. But he’s still only 23, and the chances will come in bunches before long. His fourth-place showings at the Masters and the PGA are steps in the right direction. 

    Rory McIlroy on No. 18 on Saturday at the 2018 Masters.


    Grade: B-

    Why: Asked Sunday how he’ll remember the major season, McIlroy replied bluntly: “Probably won’t. I don’t think there was anything all that memorable about it.” Of course, we’ll remember plenty, such as when he played his way into the final group at Augusta, only to fade over the course of the day, thus squandering another shot at capturing the career Grand Slam. And we’ll remember his tie for second at Carnoustie, where he eagled the 14th hole but then, with a chance to apply pressure on Molinari, couldn’t hit a wedge within 20 feet on the 18th green. He’s fallen into bad habits with that majestic swing, but there are holes in McIlroy’s game that need filling – holes that some of the other top players don’t have. And until he refines his wedge play and putting, that majorless drought (now four years and counting) will continue. 


    Grade: C+

    Why: No one has been better than Thomas over the past two seasons, but he’s likely frustrated by his major performance in 2018 – three top-25s, but only one realistic chance to win. Four shots off the lead heading into Sunday at the PGA, he had erased his deficit midway through the front nine but made critical mistakes on Nos. 14 and 16 to dash his hopes of defending his title. Of all the big-name players, he’s probably the best bet for a major rebound in 2019.


    Grade: C

    Why: This has been a resurgent season for Day, with a pair of wins, but he didn’t bring it in the year’s biggest events. It’ll look good on paper, with three top-20s, but the only time he had a chance to win was the PGA, and he was one of the few to back up on the final day, carding a 1-over 71 when he sat just four shots off the lead.


    Grade: C-

    Why: The floodgates were supposed to open after the 2016 U.S. Open, and it just hasn’t happened. Yet. He top-tenned at the Masters but was a non-factor, then jumped out to a four-shot lead halfway through the U.S. Open. He couldn’t make a putt during a Saturday 77, then got worked on the final day, head to head, against Koepka. He backed it up with a missed cut at The Open (where he blamed a lack of focus) and finished outside the top 25 at the PGA at a soft, straightforward course that suited plenty of other bombers. He can – and should – fare better.


    Grade: D-

    Why: His series of lowlights at the U.S. Open – where he bizarrely whacked a moving ball on the green and then staunchly defended his actions – underscored that his window is all but closed at the majors. His major results since getting demoralized by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open: T33-T22-MC-MC-T36-T48-T24-MC. ’Nuff said.


    Grade: F

    Why: No doubt, marriage and fatherhood are massive adjustments for everyone, but he’s missed the cut in his last five majors (and didn’t break par in any major round this year), plummeted down the world rankings (to 25th!) and put European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in a difficult position of deciding whether to burn a pick on the slumping Spaniard. Memories of that breakthrough Masters victory are already drifting further and further away.

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    Watch: Furyk throws out first pitch at Yankees-Mets

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 12:59 pm

    As part of a a New York media tour to promote the Ryder Cup, U.S. captain Jim Furyk threw out the first pitch at Monday evening's game between the Yankees and Mets at Yankee Stadium.

    Here's a look at some more photos from Captain Furyk's Ryder Cup Trophy tour.