Tour Members Win Trip and Big Break Audition

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Golf Channel Amateur TourWhen the line is long theres nothing better than being escorted past everyone else, right to the front.
Three players earned the right to jump right to the top of the audition list for The Big Break 8. Tony Caporale of Atlanta, Ga., Brent Brooks of Sorrento, Fla., Chase Barnes of Houston, Texas, won three of the four Big Break 8 Qualifier tournaments on the GOLF CHANNEL Amateur Tour.
The final qualifier was won this weekend by Andrew Flaskerud at Whisper Creek Golf Club outside of Chicago. He will get his private audition this week in Orlando.
Caporale was the first to earn a bump in the audition process by winning the first qualifier at The Heritage Club just north of Atlanta. Brooks became the second in, taking home top honors at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Barnes was the low man at Redstone Golf Club, home to the Shell Houston Open.
The winning trio were treated to an inside look at the GOLF CHANNEL studios.
By virtue of their victories, the three men ' as well as the soon-to-be determined fourth ' were allowed to skip a pre-audition for the next installment of The Big Break, in which someone will earn a PGA TOUR exemption. They were able to bypass the screening process, where thousands of applicants are whittled down to a select few ' who are then whittled down to the chosen 12.
Caporale, Brooks and Barnes were flown to Orlando, Fla., where they stayed at Reunion Resort, home to The Big Break VII: Reunion. They were given a tour of GOLF CHANNEL headquarters (Very cool, exclaimed Barnes.) and met Big Break co-host Vince Cellini.
If that wasnt enough star power for them, they dined with Tiger Woods that evening. Well, not exactly. But Woods was at the same restaurant as the trio.
The following morning, Caporale, Brooks and Barnes met with show producers for a formal interview. They also underwent a playing test at Reunion in which they had a chance to impress the men who control their Big Break fate. All three played well with Brooks firing a 4-under-par 68 to lead the way. Caporale got around the Par-72 course at Even par, while Barnes carded a solid 73.
Caporale is currently the tour manager for the multi-platinum band Collective Soul. He owns a +0.5 handicap and has a career low round of 66. Hes competed in professional and amateur events from coast-to-coast and says that he and members of the band play as often as possible when on the road.
The highlight of his playing career: Winning the GOLF CHANNEL Big Break Qualifier, of course!
Brooks is a veteran player with a resume full of mini-tour experience. He cites a scratch handicap and shot a career low 63 in a Hooters Tour event.
Brooks playing highlights include twice making it to the second stage of the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament, winning a professional event in northern Florida, and competing in the Nationwide Tours Louisiana Open.
Meanwhile, Barnes, by comparison, is just starting out in the game. He didnt really pick it up until the high school golf coach convinced him to join the team.
The now 22-year-old shot 110 in his first tournament, reduced that to an 88 four tournaments later, and shot 79 two months thereafter.
He now sports a +1 handicap and has a career low round of 65.
Chase Barnes gets in a little putting practice on one of the instructional sets.
Unlike Caporale and Brooks, Barnes did not know when he signed up for his first GOLF CHANNEL Amateur Tour event that it was a Big Break Qualifier as well.
Once I found out, I thought, This is pretty cool. And after I won, it didnt hit me at first, but then it did and I thought, Wow, this is really cool, Barnes said.
Of course, all of these guys have individual goals which they are trying to achieve. And making it on the show can only get them closer to attaining them.
I just love the game. I love everything about it. I love working on my game, getting better, Caporale said. I love competition. Ive watched every episode of every series, so Im very familiar with the show. Ive always wanted to get the chance to be a part of this program and winning that tournament has at least given me a chance to do that.
Said Brooks, who will have been married for 11 years this July and has two kids, ages 8 and 4, The PGA TOUR exemption is what Im after. I want to get out there. That was what I wanted to do before life and family kind of derailed me. Well, not so much derailed as kind of made me change gears.
Its hard to play mini-tour golf when youve got a mortgage and a wife and a kid.
For Barnes, the bar is set even higher.
My goal is to not just make the TOUR, but to be where years from now when you say my name, people know my name, he said. Its not just to make the TOUR; its to make the Hall of Fame.
First things first: making it on The Big Break 8. The show contestants will be revealed in July.
Related Links:
  • The Big Break - Schedules, Recaps and More
  • Golf Channel Amateur Tour Home
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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.


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    Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

    The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

    Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

    Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.