Team Rice Wins Big Break NFL Puerto Rico!

So…what did you think of the finale of Big Break NFL?

I had a little trouble watching the show given how much I like both Brian and Emily.  
I hated seeing Team Doleman fight so hard every week, only to watch them walk away empty handed, with no second chances.
Brian, Shannon and Chris dominated the series until the bitter end and I’m very sad they didn’t have one more win in them to close the deal.

But at the same time, I’m delighted for Emily and  Isaac who now reign supreme with NFL great, Jerry Rice.  Winning a chance to live their dream of playing in the big leagues in 2014 is well deserved and I can’t wait to watch them make the most of it.
Chatting today with Brian, I wanted to know more about his thoughts on that last day and the format chosen by the Golf Channel for the finale…

In closing I’d like to send out my heartfelt thanks to Brian, Emily and Stefanie for taking the time to talk to me throughout the series.  I wish you all the success in the world and hope to watch you live out your dreams on the LPGA/PGA very soon.

Check out Blue Falcon’s final analysis of the show below and let us know what you think! 

Until the next Big Break…

Big Break NFL Puerto Rico Episode #11: “Four Quarters”
by: Blue Falcon

After 10 episodes and lots of drama, some not always the good kind, Big Break NFL Puerto Rico staged its final matchup: Team Doleman vs. Team Rice.

In keeping with the football parlance of the season, the finale would be played as four “quarters.” Each quarter would consist of three matches, pitting NFL player vs. NFL player, Big Break male competitors against each other, and Big Break female competitors against each other, in a match play format contested over four holes.

If a player won the hole, they would earn a point. If the players tied, half points would be awarded to each team. The goal: win the most matches, thereby winning the quarter. The team with the most quarter wins would be champion of Big Break NFL Puerto Rico.

1st hole: Par 3 playing 150 yards for the men, 127 for the women. 

Match #1 pitted NFL players Jerry Rice vs. Chris Doleman. Both hit the green with their tee shots; neither player was able to convert for birdie but both made par. Championship all square after one match.

Match #2-Emily vs. Shannon. Same song, different gender. Both players halved the hole in pars. Emily had a chance to win the hole but once again, putting bit Ms. Talley. Match still all square.

Match #3: Brian vs. Isaac. The first momentum shift of the competition occurred here. Isaac won the hole with a 3 when Brian couldn’t convert his par putt.

Through 1 quarter: Team Rice leads Team Doleman, 1 Up.

2nd hole: Par 4 playing 410 yards for the men, 350 for the women. 

Match #4 pitted Shannon vs. Emily. At the beginning, Emily had the advantage; she hit the fairway with her tee shot while Shannon found a bunker. However, in what would become a recurring theme in this championship, one player couldn’t capitalize on the other’s misfortune. Emily pushed her approach wide right, then compounded the error by failing to get up and down and had to settle for a 5. Shannon steadied her ship by making par to take a 1 up lead in the 2nd quarter.

Match #5: Brian vs. Isaac. Both players hit the fairway and green, with Isaac in the better position. Brian blew his birdie putt past the hole and Isaac’s birdie putt just missed wide right. The hole was halved with pars. Team Doleman remained 1 up through 2 matches in the 2nd quarter.

Match #6: Chris vs. Jerry. Jerry posted a 5 on this hole for a bogey, but that was good enough to win the hole as Chris Doleman played what might be the single worst hole of golf in Big Break history.

In chronological order, Doleman: Topped his tee shot, found the rough with his second, missed the green right, planted his fourth shot into the lip of a greenside bunker after it hit a tree limb, barely got the ball out of the bunker, then left his bogey putt significantly short of the hole. That was a truly ugly performance. At halftime, Team Rice led Team Doleman, 1 ½ to ½.

The 3rd quarter was played on a Par 5 hole measuring 511 yards for the men and 446 for the women.

Match #7 had Isaac playing vs. Brian. Isaac had a small advantage off the tee, as his tee shot found the fairway while Brian’s shot ended up in the rough. Once again, however, the player with the advantage didn’t do anything with it as Isaac’s next two shots found the bunker and stayed in, respectively. He would eventually exit the bunker but had to settle for a par. Brian birdied the hole to give Team Doleman a 1-UP lead in the 3rd quarter.

Match #8: Chris vs. Jerry. Off the tee, things looked good for Team Doleman as he got extremely lucky after his tee shot hit the cart path, a tree and bounced back into the first cut of rough. Jerry, meanwhile, hit his tee shot into a heavily weeded area. Would Doleman capitalize on his lucky shot? No, he would not!

His 2nd shot hit a tree limb and found the woods; his 3rd hit yet another tree limb, and, to add insult to injury, ricocheted back behind him. On his 4th shot, Chris got out of the woods, which was the good news. The bad news: the shot found a greenside bunker. He would go on to post a bogey 6.

 Jerry, meanwhile, had a much less eventful hole. He blasted his shot out of the weeds and eventually won the hole with a par. The finale was back to all square in the 3rd quarter.

Match #9 pitted the ladies against each other. If Emily won this match, Team Rice would win the championship. Emily started well, finding the fairway off the tee, while Shannon hit her tee shot to the first cut of rough. However, the Groundhog Day golf continued as once again, Emily couldn’t string together a series of good shots. Her 2nd shot found a greenside bunker, her 3rd was hacked well past the hole, and her birdie effort from 15 feet came up short. She would eventually par the hole.

Shannon, meanwhile, stayed within herself. She laid up with her approach and found the green on her 3rd shot. Shannon had a look at birdie to take the lead in the quarter, but she was indecisive and missed her short birdie putt. Both players posted a 5 and after 3 quarters, Team Rice was just a half-point away from winning the championship.

The 4th quarter took place on a Par 4 hole playing 401 yards for the men, 340 for the women.

The NFL players would not participate in this hole; this was all down to the returning Big Breakers.

Match #10: Brian vs. Isaac. Team Doleman needed to win or halve the hole to extend the match. While Isaac’s tee shot found the fairway, Brian’s barely carried a bunker. Brian’s approach was better than Isaac’s, but neither player made their birdie putts. Both players carded 4’s, extending the competition to at least one more hole.

Match #11: Shannon vs. Emily. All Emily needed was a half-point to help her team win the event. Emily’s tee shot split the fairway, Shannon’s found the left rough. Emily’s approach was safely reached the green. Shannon, knowing that she needed a good, possibly great approach shot to keep her team alive, was, once again, indecisive. She backed away, was unsure about club selection, and even stopped her swing in the process of hitting the shot. When she finally hit the shot, it wasn’t a good one, finding the greenside bunker. She would hack out of the bunker but not close to the hole.

While Shannon was struggling mightily, both physically and mentally, Emily stood up to the pressure, hitting her birdie putt to about 1 ½ feet. With a 10 foot shot for par to extend the match, Shannon couldn’t make her putt, leaving the door wide open for Emily Talley to win the match for Team Rice. And she did!

Team Rice wins Big Break NFL Puerto Rico and the prizes that come with the win.

Team Rice definitely deserved to win this event. While their overall performance was above average at best, that really doesn’t matter in match play. The goal of match play golf is simply to be better than the player/team you’re competing against, and they were. Congratulations to Team Rice on their victory!

Team Doleman needed to bring their A-Game to beat Team Rice, and they didn’t even bring a C-game. Whether it was mental fatigue, physical fatigue, or some other reason, they simply didn’t get the job done. They can be proud of themselves for making it this far, but I don’t imagine they’re pleased with their performance in this session.

In keeping with the football theme of the season, the best description of this episode that I can come up with comes from John Facenda, the late voice of NFL Films, who said this in the highlight film of the 1977 Super Bowl between the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos: “It was fiercely fought, but frightfully flawed.”

It was not the most exciting Big Break finale ever; it wasn’t the best display of golf, it was just kind of there.

Until we meet again, Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano Nuevo, all the best this holiday season from…

Blue Falcon

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