Maiya Tanaka Player Blog

By Maiya TanakaJuly 4, 2010, 3:44 am
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

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Mickelson: 'Not my finest moment ... 'I'm sorry'

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 2:41 pm

Days after his putter swipe ignited a controversy that threatened to overshadow the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson offered an apology.

Mickelson received a two-shot penalty for purposely hitting his ball while it was still in motion on the 13th green during the third round at Shinnecock Hills. In the eyes of the USGA, his actions fell short of a disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules, and the 48-year-old ultimately matched his age with a T-48 finish after returning to play the final round.

Mickelson declined to speak to reporters after a Sunday 66, but Wednesday he sent a note to a select group of media members that included Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte in which the five-time major champ offered some contrition.

“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

Mickelson’s actions drew ire from both media members and his fellow competitors, with members of both groups implying that his actions merited disqualification. His most recent remarks seem to indicate that the decision to run up and stop his ball from tumbling back across the 13th green was more of an impulse than the calculated use of the rule book he described after the third round at Shinnecock.

“It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can,” Mickelson said Saturday. “In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

Mickelson is not in the field this week at the Travelers Championship and is expected to make his next start in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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Hubert Green, Hall of Famer, dies at 71

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2018, 2:06 pm

Hubert Green, a World Golf Hall of Famer who won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1977 U.S. Open and 1985 PGA Championship, died Tuesday from complications following a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

A remarkably consistent player, Green used his distinctive swing to finish in the top 25 in a third of the PGA Tour events he entered. He also played on three Ryder Cup teams (1977, 1979, and 1985) and was undefeated in singles play.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Green graduated from Florida State University in 1968. While at FSU, he won the Cape Coral Intercollegiate tournament by eight strokes and the Miami Invitational, the nation’s largest collegiate tournament, by five strokes. He turned pro in 1969, earned his Tour card in 1970 and was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 1971.

Green's first PGA Tour win was the 1971 Houston Champions International, in which he beat Don January in a playoff. Between 1973 and 1976 he won 10 more times, including a three-week stretch in 1976 when he won at Doral, Jacksonville and Hilton Head.

Green won the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., despite being informed of a death threat against him that had been anonymously telephoned to the course. He received the news after putting out on the 14th hole of the final round. He decided to keep playing, and wound up winning  by one stroke over Lou Graham.

A seldom-remembered fact about Green: he finished third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in their 1977 "Duel in the Sun" Open Championship at Turnberry. He was 11 strokes behind winner Watson.

Green won his second major championship in 1985, taking the PGA Championship at Cherry Hills. By a margin of two strokes, he denied Lee Trevino's bid to win back-to-back PGAs. It would be Green's last win on the PGA Tour. Afterward, Trevino praised his opponent, saying “He’s a great sand player and probably the best chipper we’ve got. Every time he got into trouble, he chipped it close to the hole.”

Green joined what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions in 1997 and went on to win four times, the first win coming in 1998 in his hometown of Birmingham.

Green was also involved in golf course design, including courses such as TPC Southwind,  Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.; and Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham.

Green was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer in 2003. Treated with chemotherapy and radiation, he continued playing golf. In 2005, he was named the Champions Tour's Comeback Player of the Year. He also received the Ben Hogan Award at the Masters that year. In 2007 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Green is also remembered for his philanthropic efforts. Over the years he participated in hundreds of charity tournaments and community fund-raising events that supported a wide range of causes including childhood cancer, united cerebral palsy, and other illnesses.

Green is survived by his wife Becky Blair, of Birmingham; three sons, Hubert Myatt Green Jr. of Hurricane, Utah; Patrick Myatt Green; and James Thomas Green (Adrienne) of Panama City, Fla.; sisters Melinda Green Powers and Carolyn Green Satterfield and brother Maurice O. V. Green, all of Birmingham, step-sons Richard O’Brien of New Orleans and Atticus O’Brien of Dallas, Texas, and several grandchildren.

A memorial service is being planned at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, and details are pending. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Highlands United Methodist Church Community Ministry or to a charity of your choice.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''

''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''

Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''

But he was always happy on the golf course.

''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.