Pressure Packed Chase For Par

By November 2, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe, is The Golf Channels fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked to include a team dynamic. But that in no way means the stakes arent high for each individual, as the contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
 
With the field of contestants nearly cut in half, the final seven learned the latest twist in the shows format.
 
Big Break IV
The European team confers with their caddie as they formulate a game plan for the Immunity Challenge.
Skipping the Mulligan Challenge for the day, the two teams headed straight into the Immunity Challenge where the bells and whistles of some of the others challenges would be stripped bare and pure golf was to be the focus.
 
Team USA, with three remaining players, and Team Europe, with four, were each to play three holes ' a par-5, a par-3 and finally a par-4. If the team as a whole could shoot par or better they would be safe from going into the Elimination Challenge. Therefore, if both teams failed in the challenge, then all seven men would head into the elimination round. Conversely, if both teams succeeded, then no one would be sent home.
 
It was a very interesting challenge. It was literally just up to us. We knew what we had to do and it was whether we did it or not, said Marty Wilde Jr. from Team Europe.
 
With the U.S. squad hidden away as not to be given the advantage of seeing how to play the holes, Team Europe got off to a nice start as Warren Bladon and Wilde Jr. each made birdies on the par-5. Thomas Blankvoort was in with a par and Guy Woodman could not get up and down from the greenside rough and made bogey to leave the Euros 1 under collectively.
 
With Bladon and Woodman in with pars at the par-3 second hole, Wilde Jr. was unable to get his 15-footer for par to fall and left Blankvoort with a chance to keep the team at 1 under. His 10-foot putt for birdie, however, skimmed the left side of the hole and left Team Europe at even par as they moved to the final hole.
 
As a team you just got to get over it and say, OK, weve hit some bad shots but were still even par, said Wilde Jr. after his bogey left his team on the edge of the Elimination round. We can just go into the last hole and get four pars and weve done it.
 
The pressure of beating Old Man Par started to get to the Europeans at the final hole as they struggled to reach the par-4 green in regulation. Blankvoort and Wilde Jr., both well short of the green on their approaches, recovered nicely with a pair of up and downs for pars. Woodman, with a chance to seal the deal by knocking down a birdie putt, couldnt capitalize however, leaving the outcome of the team in Bladons hands.
 
On the back of the green in two, Bladon blew his first putt past the hole and now stared at a 4-foot comebacker to keep his team out of the Elimination Challenge. A tentative stroke by Bladon saw the ball break sharply to the right of the hole, leaving the team captain to kick his putter in disgust.
 
I did feel very angry and somewhat responsible, recalled Bladon. But I was also disappointed that it actually came down to that putt when we had wasted all those other chances and I shouldnt have been in that position.
 
Now it was Team USAs turn to determine their fate, and they, too, got off to a solid start as team captain Paul Holtby coaxed in a birdie putt at the first to put the team at 1 under.
 
Big Break IV
U.S. team captain Paul Holtby hits a delicate shot during the Immunity Challenge.
So we left that (first) green at 1 under par. I was very comfortable with where we were at, said a suddenly confident Holtby.
 
That confidence must have spread to his teammates as each player of Team USA took dead aim at the par-3 second hole and all had chances for birdie. Randall Hunt fired first and came up just inches shy of getting his team further into red numbers. Holtby followed, but he too just missed leaving T.J. Valentine with the opportunity to put the U.S. at 2 under. A quick stroke and a slight pull kept the team at one under going into the last hole.
 
I felt bad for the team because here we had a chance to get really comfortable now and it just didnt go in. I was pretty frustrated, said Valentine.
 
After launching their tee shots on the final hole, the U.S. squad looked to be in complete control. Things quickly began to deteriorate as Hunt picked the wrong club and left his approach well short of the green. He then he followed up with another poor effort that barely made it to the putting surface.
 
All of a sudden, Team USA needed a couple of short putts to fall to avoid the elimination round. Valentine again missed a relatively easy birdie putt that would have saved the team and then it was back on Hunts shoulders. If he could sink his simple 3-footer he would go from goat to hero. Hunt missed his mark, taking a double bogey on the hole and sending his team, along with the Europeans, to the Elimination Challenge.
 
I missed the putt and I put my team in the Elimination Challenge, said Hunt on his poor performance. That really took a lot of wind out of me because Paul and T.J. did what they were supposed to do.
 
The only good news for both teams at this point was that each persons odds improved greatly due to the number of players now having to compete in the Elimination Challenge, which will be the entire focus of next weeks episode.
 
We were all surprised. We got together then, both teams, going How did you do that? said a slightly bemused Bladon. I just couldnt believe it.

The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break IV: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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    Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

    According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

    Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

    Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

    Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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    Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

    Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

    Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

    “I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

    Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

    “Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

    Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

    On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

    “These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

    Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

    More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

    Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

    Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

    “He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

    Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

    He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.