Twos Company Threes a Crowd

By April 20, 2005, 4:00 pm
The Big Break IIIEditors note: The Golf Channels Big Break III ' Ladies Only is the third installment of this hit series. As the title suggests, however, this season is just for the ladies. The 10 contestants are vying for entry into select LPGA tournaments, including the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.
As the final three players relaxed before heading out to the days competition, an uncomfortable feeling greeted them at the morning breakfast table.
Knowing that the winner of the opening Skills Challenge would be guaranteed a spot in the finals, the ladies each sensed a dramatic change in the atmosphere.
Big Break III
Pam Crikelair has had several near misses during the first 9 weeks.
We went from having 10 (at the table), sitting elbow to elbow, having five different conversations at once, very loud, observed the groups youngest competitor Pam Crikelair. Now theres three of us, sitting awkwardly at the table with very forced conversation.
The shows ninth and final Skills Challenge was going to test their driving ability, both in distance and in accuracy. Each drive would be measured for length and then a measurement of how far off line the ball came to rest would be subtracted from the original total. The trio would hit three drives with the two highest totals moving on to a putting challenge to determine who would win immunity onto the final show.
As they made their way to the course they were met by not only co-hosts Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks, but Mother Nature was making a return visit as well.
All the rain that we had had really left its mark for this event because it was soggy, it was wet, remarked Crikelair. It was basically how far you can carry it.
Crikelairs assessment was correct as her opening blast down the middle produced no roll but was still accurate enough and long enough to move into the lead. Her subsequent drive, however, was pushed way the to right to bring both Cindy Miller and Danielle Amiee back into the fold as they were down to one last swing.
The usually precise and steady Miller needed a big drive to get into the putting challenge, but her third attempt drifted too far left and left her ' for the first time in four shows ' on the outside looking in.
I just thought thats OK with me. Ive got three (immunities) in a row and four total, said the unwavering Miller. I was OK with that.
It was now Crikelair and Amiee in a putting duel to see who would be assured a spot in the final show and who would face Miller in the Elimination Challenge.
The second portion of the Skills Challenge asked the final pairing to hole out from four different locations on a green, each with dissimilar breaks and of different lengths.
Danielle needs to win this because it would be a great confidence booster for her, said Crikelair somewhat brazenly. And Danielle needs more of a confidence booster than I do.
And lo and behold right out of the gate, the opposite happened as Amiee couldnt convert the shortest of the four putts then watched as Crikelair drained it to go one up. Crikelair tried to give it back on the next as her long lag putt finished well short and led to a three putt. Amiee was unable to take advantage as she too three putted to remain one down.
The third location turned out to be a back-breaker for Amiee, as she pushed a putt that looked to be almost in gimme range to the right and again resulted in three putts. Crikelair had already made a two and now was one good stroke from heading to the final show.
Big Break III
Danielle Amiee has rubbed some people the wrong way, but nevertheless has survived each and every Elimination Challenge.
I knew I could four putt and tie, though I didnt plan on doing that, said Crikelair about her situation. For the first time I started thinking, Im going to the finals.
True enough, Amiee couldnt make her last putt and Crikelair made an easy two to take up the first slot in The Big Break III finale.
This kid has only played for three years and to have the guts to even apply (to be on the show), said the fairly surprised Miller on Crikelairs performance. And then to make it all the way to the finals, its just a great story.
It was now gut check time as Amiee and Miller would battle each other in the Elimination Challenge to see who would stay alive to face Crikelair in the finals.
Cindy wants it sooo bad, said Miller about the prospects of her impending clash with Amiee. But its time to buckle up and grind.
The Elimination Challenge would be three holes of head-to-head stroke play, with the player with lowest score moving on, and the other unfortunately heading home.
Both players started off by hitting their drives a little left on the first hole, but safe enough to have a good shot into the green. Trying to cope with the constant drizzle and a stiff breeze, Amiee left her approach short and in a bunker, leaving the door ajar for Miller who was on in two.
Amiee quickly turned the tables with spectacular sand shot the almost dropped in the hole for a birdie. Both made pars and then moved on to face a long, dogleg left par-5.
She really hit a great shot. I mean the girl has got game, said Miller on Amiees clutch sand save. You gotta respect her.
With the wet, windy conditions the ladies both laid up with their second shots, hoping to stick a wedge in close for a chance at birdie. Millers approach, however, went a little long and left leaving her with a delicate downhill chip to the cup. Amiees approach not only found the green but was close enough to give her a great chance to make a birdie and move to 1 under.
Amiee couldnt convert though then watched as Millers chip raced by the hole. She then followed up with a putt that rolled around the back rim of the cup only to stay out. Amiee now had a slight lead as they prepared for the final hole.
Big Break III
After avoiding the last three Elimination Challenges all together, Cindy Miller had her good run finally came to a close.
I had no idea what the outcome was going to be, said Crikelair as she scouted Amiee and Miller. I think that at any given point somebody can make a great shot and that same person can make a terrible shot.
Up a stroke, Amiee confidently hit her tee shot on the par-3 but came up short of the flagstick, some 50 feet away. Miller countered with a beautiful approach to within 15 feet of the pin. Trying to keep her nerves in check and avoid what could be a disastrous three putt, Amiees lag putt again came up short, leaving her with a testy 5-footer for par.
It was now up to Miller to make a statement. Her attempt had the line but ran out of stream about a foot short of the cup.
Amiee now stood over a 5 footer to win the Elimination Challenge and advance to the finals against her nemesis Crikelair.
This putt had way too much on it to rush it, said Amiee her impending putt. Once I mentally was committed to the line then I could take a deep breath and stroke it. And if it dropped it dropped. If it didnt, it didnt.
It dropped, setting up a grudge match between Crikelair and Amiee.
For Miller, however, it was not a time to hang her head as she came away from the defeat like her usual self ' with a good attitude.
Theres an awful lot of lessons you can learn on the links for life, said the departing Miller. I wanted to make it, but I didnt have to make it. Im just thrilled that Ive become a better player, and a bigger person, for doing this.
After nine weeks of physical and mental challenges, its down to only Pam and Danielle to battle it out on the final episode of The Big Break III. The two rivals have butted heads throughout the series and its only fitting that they face each other for the title and the LPGA Tour exemptions. Although the ultimate prize is enough to get the competitive juices flowing, the disdain each has for the other will make the winners victory that much more sweet.
The series finale airs Tuesday, April 26, at 9 p.m. ET on The Golf Channel. The winner goes to the LPGA Tour and the loser goes home.
Related Links:
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