Driving to Make the Final Four

By November 16, 2004, 5:00 pm
Big Break II LogoEditors Note: The Golf Channel aired the seventh episode of The Big Break II Tuesday night, where 10 highly skilled golfers compete to win an opportunity to play in four Nationwide Tour events televised on The Golf Channel in 2005.

With just five players remaining, co-hosts Kelly Swanson and Rick Smith opened the show and the skills challenge asking the players to attempt one of the hardest shots in golf - the long iron approach.

Starting at 185-yards out, each player would try to hit it closest to the pin. The player furthest from the flagstick would be eliminated from the skills challenge and the rest would then hit again from five yards further back.

The Big Break IIAfter Don Donatello, David Gunas Jr. and Kip Henley bowed out, John Turk and Bart Lower were left to battle for the all-important exemption from the elimination challenge. And sure enough, Lower got the better of the two as his approach on the final shot came to rest just inside Turks ball, relieving Lower from the stress of both the mulligan and elimination challenges.

Lets see, weve had six skills challenges and I have gotten to sit out three of them. So thats not to bad, said Lower about his good fortune.

But for Turk it was just another day at the office.

Ive been in every elimination challenge here so far, so why not? said Turk with a smile. Nothing ever changes.

With Lower looking on, the other four took part in the Top-Flite mulligan challenge, where an extra shot is rewarded to the winner to use in the elimination round that would follow.

Having to hit wedge shots from 60-yards out, the four players split into two groups. Donatello stuck his approach to edge out Henley, and then Gunas Jr. topped Turks poor shot to meet Donatello in the final.

David is a very interesting character because hes got very, very good hands, said Donatello, sizing up his opponent.

Having to knock his wedge to within 5 feet 1 half inch to win the mulligan, Donatello hit his approach close but had to wait for the official measure.

Pull the tape tight, pleaded Donatello as they calculated the distance. Youre giving me a heart attack!

It had to be one of the funniest things I had ever seen in my life, recalled Turk on watching Donatellos antics.

His fears turned out to be warranted, as Gunas Jr. nipped Donatello by a mere 1 inch giving him the hard earned mulligan.

It was now on to the elimination round and a long yet straight drive was the key to staying around in the penthouse in Vegas for at least another night.

A 5-yard wide strip was painted down the middle of the fairway and each contestant had three tee shots that would be measured for total length minus the yardage that they were off line. A drive that came to rest 280-yards from the tee but was 20-yards off line would be measured at 260-yards.

Again, the players were divided into pairs and whoever had the most totals yards in his three attempts would stave off elimination, leaving the other two to battle for the last spot.

Henleys overall length took out Donatello in one semi-final, forcing the angst-ridden Donatello into the final elimination round.

No one lives and dies with each shot more than that guy, said Henley laughingly about Donatello.

The other semi-final saw Turk beat Gunas Jr., setting up a showdown between two of the shorter hitters on the Big Break II.

I said to David before the challenge, You know what? Im sorry it has to come down to the two of us because I like you a lot and you like me a lot, but one of us has to go home, said Donatello on the days final showdown.

With his opponents scores already posted, Gunas Jr. needed three high quality tee shots to oust Donatello from the show. His first two were solid but not spectacular and he needed an almost perfect final swing to remain in Vegas.

I honestly bent down and said a prayer to the Lord to help me get through this so I could make a better life for my family and myself and give me a chance to win this thing, said Donatello about his wait for Gunas Jr.s final attempt.

The Big Break IIAs the Las Vegas sun quickly disappeared below the horizon, so too did Gunas Jr. and his hopes of sticking around for another day. His final drive plugged in the fairway and it wasnt enough to overtake Donatello.

Great, no roll. Bye-bye! Thanks Big Break, gotta go, said a good-natured Gunas Jr. about his departure.

Hes like the little kid that keeps you laughing, keeps it funny and the guy who breaks the ice all the time, offered Turk on the outgoing Gunas Jr. I knew he had a kind heart.

Be sure to watch The Golf Channel every Tuesday at 9:00PM (ET), as the battle for survival comes down to the final four on The Big Break 2.

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