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Maiya Tanaka Player Blog

Dang! I got eliminated! That wasn’t the plan!

I got to the airport around 4 a.m. It was still dark outside, and I was in my comfy sweats and UCLA travel gear, no makeup. After a few layovers and hours later, I arrived at the Bahamas, once again to darkness outside. This time we were greeted with cameras! Ah! This was my TV debut, and I was in sweats and no makeup, but that’s just how I roll. I was the only one who looked like they just rolled out of bed, but hello America!

In reviewing my thoughts in my journal, the biggest thing I worried about was how I was going to survive without my laptop and phone for two weeks! Other than that, I took a relatively relaxed approach to the show. I packed modestly: one bag and my golf bag. Of course, I forgot half the things I needed, but the girls had my back if I ever had to borrow anything. The girls were amazing!

First notable thing was that we got butlers! When we first arrived, we each had our own personal butler! He even carried my purse as we walked toward the rooms. Now that’s a real man! I also was so excited to eat anything out of the mini bar! Usually, that’s off limits, and I wouldn’t even think about opening it. It was awesome! I got into half that mini bar on the first night! The excitement of being there mixed with the surreal feeling of actually being selected was incredible.

We played a fun practice round the next morning, where I got to know Sara and Carling a little better. We did photo shoots, had our makeup done and just feel like girls! It was so much fun! If I could have had the whole trip be like this, I would be in heaven, no worries and no pressure. However, reality sunk in, and it was off to the competition!

The night before the first day, I couldn’t sleep at all. I wanted to know what the challenge would be. I was so excited! When we woke up, the cameras were there. From the moment we woke up to the very end of the day, we had microphones on us. This was the weirdest thing, knowing someone else was listening to everything you say at any given moment. But it also was fun messing with the sound guys and keeping them on their toes! We would joke around and say stuff just to check if they were listening.

Commenting on the first episode’s challenges, I was just so nervous. I couldn’t even hold onto the golf club. I also didn’t factor in the adrenaline and hit my first challenge shot way long. Then I did it again with the second challenge—hitting it long—then overcorrecting for the second shot. I’m just glad that I was able to relax and dial it in for the elimination challenge. It was closer to actually playing a real hole of golf. I was excited because that’s what I do, and that’s where I’m used to having the pressure put on me. The idea of only having one shot at a random location was the main reason I felt so much pressure. It's weird looking back on the shots. I feel like I could do them in my sleep now!

I received a lot of comments about my Breast Cancer Awareness shirt. That’s what the I <3 Boobies was for, for those of you who were wondering. I just wanted to show my support. I got the shirt at a cool pub-crawl for Breast Cancer that I went on. Support Breast Cancer Awareness!

On the second episode, I got saved, so I was able to get some pool time in. Not bad at all. :) I kicked back with a few piña coladas and worked on that sock tan! I was hoping they would let us practice, since we got very minimal practice in since we had arrived, but we couldn't. I do feel like I could have done well in the competition that day looking back on it, especially because driver is my favorite club to hit!


Elimination Day: Da-Da-Dum.

All I can think about is how long that day seemed. It was such a harsh day with roller coaster emotions. I was so happy and excited to see and meet Greg Norman, and it was so cool of him to give us pointers and tips and hang out with us at the range. I liked his accent, and he seemed really nice. Then, he becomes our worst enemy as he sets up the hardest shots he could have around the hole. Thanks Greg! But really, his thought process was, “where would the ball end up if you went for the green and missed the shot.”

I wanted to remind Greg we are pros and would never miss there! Just kidding. It made for a fun challenge. The fact that the winning group got to save someone also kind of made it interesting. The field went from nine girls to only five in what seemed like a heartbeat. That really put the pressure on, because in my eyes, Sara, Carling, Ryann and Taryn were the strongest competitors out there, and none of us were going down without a fight. After a few shots that were good, but not good enough, I ended up having to face-off with the one girl I've always had to compete with, Ryann. I didn't want to have to compete against her until the end. I wanted us to go all the way and then face each other in the finale. But, it came early, and it was Deja vu back to our UCLA days. Fighting for the last spot.

I’m happy to have been chosen to compete on Big Break. I leave with a smile on my face that will continue to shine on to see another tournament. I know just being chosen says a lot about my game and personality, so I could never leave feeling badly about what happened. Just in being selected, I felt like I won a raffle or something. But I would have felt like I won the lotto if I had won!

My main regret is the fact that I wasn’t able to really display my talent on the course.  I was nervous in every single challenge and couldn’t calm those nerves! The excitement and nervousness I felt was something unimaginable and a type of feeling that is solely the product of Big Break. There is no other feeling like it. I am confident that I will never have quite the same feeling again, because it is so unique, and I don’t know if I could handle it! It has, however, been the biggest and best preparation for my future that I could have asked for. I feel prepared for pressure situations, to be on camera and to be able to enjoy it. I feel like I could take on anyone, anywhere at anytime now, which is the perfect mindset as I pursue my career and try to reach my goal of competing on the LPGA Tour.

I can only hope they will do a reunion show and invite me back, so I can really show what I can do on the golf course. I think I would have a good chance the second time around, because now I know what to expect. But then again, I’ve learned that with Big Break, you can never really expect anything but the unexpected.

Continue to follow me and my career. I'll have a lot of fun stuff coming up! Thank you to everyone who believes in me and has faith I will make it one day! I appreciate all the love and support!!

<3, Maiya