Ladies Begin Fight to Stave Off Elimination

By February 16, 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 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.
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    McCarthy wins Tour Championship by 4

    By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

    McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Tour Finals.

    ''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

    McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.

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    Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

    Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

    ''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

    The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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    LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

    ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

    Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

    “We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”

    Final FedExCup standings

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    For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

    “His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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    For Woods, is this only the beginning?

    By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

    If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

    This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

    To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

    To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

    On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

    Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

    It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

    And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

    Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

    Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

    It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.

    Final FedExCup standings

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    He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

    There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

    He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

    Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

    But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

    There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

    Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

    He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

    That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

    Why go through all of that rehab again?

    Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

    Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

    Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

    Woods has put the golf world on notice.

    It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

    The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

    The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

    But that’s a talk for a later date.

    Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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    Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

    By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

    ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

    McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

    McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

    In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.

    Final FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

    The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

    “I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

    It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.