With their nerves racing and tensions high, the ladies started off the day by battling it out in their first Mulligan Challenge. The winner would be granted an all-important mulligan that could be used strategically during the Skills Challenge.
Unlike the previous two Big Break series, the ladies would be playing for the mulligan before playing the Skills Challenge. The winner of the Skills Challenge would then be granted immunity from the dreaded Elimination Challenge.
Everyone here has a great amount of talent, said 41-year-old Debbie Dahmer. Its not a lack of talent that is going to eliminate the first player.
The Mulligan Challenge had the group hitting two wedge shots from around 100-yards out. The two players with the lowest total distance from the pin would move on to a putt off and the winner there would grab the mulligan.
But before a single shot could be fired, the first surprise of the day came when LPGA Tour stars Kelli Kuehne and Lori Kane strolled up to the hitting area to show the ladies how its done.
I was so extremely nervous, said Pam Crikelair. The first event, the first day and then all of sudden I had to follow Kelli Kuehne off the tee. I was even more nervous.
After each contestant hit their tee shots, roommates Jan Dowling and Liz Uthoff had the best two scores and proceeded to the putting green. Kuehne went first to give the pair a good look at the break, but with the rain beginning to come down neither could capitalize on the first putt. A second miss by Dowling opened the door for Uthoff and she drained the putt and seized the mulligan.
With Mother Nature really letting loose with the rain and cold, the ladies made their way to the Skills Challenge. The name of the game was uneven lies, with each player hitting a shot from below their feet and a shot above their feet.
It definitely added an element of difficulty to each shot, said the groups youngest contestant Sarah Sasse, from Lincoln, Neb.
As each player finished hitting their shots, the winning distance kept getting smaller and smaller until Tasha Browner set the pace with a total of 19 feet 4 inches.
Any chance that I might be able to pull something out it was right now. I gotta see what Im capable of, said Browner about her mark. I did everything I could do to put myself in contention.
But alas, the winning distance didnt hold up for very long, as former LPGA Tour player Cindy Miller topped it with an impressive total of just 13 feet 7 inches. The Skills Challenge victory gave Miller the shows first immunity as she would survive to see another day.
Of course nobody wants to be eliminated and nobody wants to be eliminated on the first day, said the much relieved Miller. That was just a nightmare. I was like, Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks then led the remaining nine contestants to the final challenge of the day, the anxiety-ridden Elimination Challenge.
Everybody went from talking and having a good time to almost silence, recalled Dowling on the immediate mood swing of the players.
In the Elimination Challenge, the strength of the players short game was again being put at a premium, as each would have three shots from three different areas to try and accumulate as many points as possible.
In varying distances, five circles were drawn around the hole with each ring signifying a point total. A 25-yard chip shot, followed by a bunker shot and then finally a 25-yard flop were on the table to see who would be staying and who would be heading home.
Debbie Dahmer led the group in points after a great shot to within a couple of feet in the opening round, as Liz Uthoff found herself at the other end of the spectrum and in last as her first attempt came up an bit shy of the hole.
Standing in the wet sand of the bunker during stage two of the challenge, Sarah Sasse almost holed her effort and quickly found herself in first place after two rounds. Uthoff was still mired in last place although four players were well within her reach if she was able to come up with something big in the days final shot.
One by one, the players in front established themselves as survivors as they maintained their scores to avoid elimination. It then came down to the final two contestants, Tasha Browner and Uthoff, to see who could hang on. At the most unfortunate of times, Browner skulled her attempt over the green resulting in zero points, leaving her destiny in Uthoff's hands.
I dont think I have ever been that focused in my entire life, said Uthoff about her closing shot.
That said, Uthoff stuck her flop shot close thus dodging the elimination bullet and sending Browner packing for home.
I controlled my own destiny and I didnt take care of my own business. Im obviously going to have to live with that, said the departing Browner. The (last) shot, unfortunately, Im going to be replaying for a long time.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET) as the ladies finally get a chance to grip it and rip it and where one of them pulls off one of the best shots in Big Break history.