Blackwelder's 'Big Break' debuts tonight on Golf Channel
Mallory Blackwelder has been around golf her whole life, but she got a whole new perspective on the game as a participant on The Golf Channel's Big Break reality series.
Blackwelder, a Versailles native who played college golf at Florida and Kentucky before turning pro, is one of 12 golfers (six women and six men) in Big Break Ireland, which was filmed at the K Club (near Dublin) in May.
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The 10-episode series begins on The Golf Channel at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Mallory and her parents, Myra (a former LPGA player) and Worth Blackwelder, are holding a "premiere party" at Harry's in Palomar to watch the first episode.
Mallory can't reveal the results of Big Break Ireland, which offered $80,000 in prize money and exemptions into pro tournaments.
"I haven't even told my parents how it went," she said.
The Big Break competition includes skill challenges between teams and individuals. But as is the case with most reality shows, someone is eliminated every week until one winner is determined.
"It was really, really competitive, and such an emotional, intense experience," Blackwelder said.
"You're thrown into that situation with 11 other people, and the first couple of days you're resting, learning the golf course and doing promotional stuff, so you get to know them and become really close to them as friends.
"Then you've got to turn around and start picking people off because you're obviously there to win."
Blackwelder, 24, had a pretty good year on the Futures Tour, with three top-10 finishes, and a spot in the final stage of LPGA qualifying school at Daytona Beach, Fla., in December.
Final Presidents pick still up for grabs
Fred Couples has a short list of candidates to be a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup, and he said he will use the Tour Championship as one last audition. One player who didn't automatically make the U.S. team and won't be sweating it out is Tiger Woods.
And he won't even be playing at East Lake.
Couples made it clear three weeks ago that he would use one of his captain's picks on Woods, and he explained his logic Sunday night during a conference call after 10 players earned a spot on the U.S. team.
"I just decided to let everyone know that they were really playing for one spot," he said. "I felt it was justified to my team, also, that anyone outside of the top 10, they were fighting for one spot."
That's what made the final round of the BMW Championship so critical. Ultimately, the only thing that changed in the U.S. standings was the order in which they finished. Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and David Toms held the last three spots on the team. Those positions were up for grabs Sunday at Cog Hill, and only were settled when Brandt Snedeker had his worst round of the week (74) and Bill Haas imploded on the back nine and shot 42.
"I knew if I played well, something good would happen," Haas said. "And I knew if I played bad, nothing would happen."
Alas, all is not lost, even if it might look bleak.
Couples said Snedeker, Haas and PGA champion Keegan Bradley are "the leaders in this three-ring circus" to be his other pick. He is to announce his selection Sept. 27, the Tuesday after the Tour Championship.
The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 17-20 at Royal Melbourne, the only course where the International team won, in 1998.
"We still have another week, but that could easily change anyone's mind," Couples said. "I want these guys to know that the Tour Championship is still deciding my second pick."
Riggs conference player of the week
Kentucky men's soccer sophomore Tyler Riggs, who led the 21st-ranked Wildcats to the Gamecock Classic championship this past weekend, was named Conference USA's offensive player of the week for the second time this season. Riggs was also named a member of the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
The Louisville native led Kentucky with three goals in two wins in Columbia, S.C., including a two-goal game in the Wildcats' 5-1 rout of 15th-ranked Brown in the championship game.
Riggs has eight goals and four assists this season.
The next match for Kentucky (6-2-1) is against No. 3 Creighton (6-0-0) at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Omaha, Neb.
Djokovic says his back injury not serious
Novak Djokovic said the back muscle injury that forced him to quit his Davis Cup match is not serious but requires rest. He tried to play through the pain Sunday against Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. But the top-ranked Serb stopped during the second set, sending Argentina to the Davis Cup finals against Spain.
"Not as serious as we have thought," Djokovic said Monday. "It's a partial rupture of a back muscle that deserves rest."
Djokovic skipped Friday's opening singles because of lingering back problems following his victory over Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open finals. But after losing the opening set 7-6 (5) against Del Potro, Djokovic fell from pain during the third game of the second set.
Djokovic said he may have to skip his next tournaments in China next month — the Shanghai Masters and China Open in Beijing.
"I hope I will recover by then," Djokovic said. "Anyway, I won't risk the worsening of the injury and that's why it is hard to predict for how long I will rest."
Djokovic said he has never had this kind of back problem.
"I carried the injury since the U.S. Open," Djokovic said. "It gradually got worse through the tournament, and I felt sharp pain in the finals. ... Luckily for me, I managed to hold on and to survive that fourth set and win the tournament. I came here quite late, and I could not get ready."
TVG to cover Turfway's Day of Champions
The WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park Saturday will be broadcast live by TVG, with hosts Mike Joyce, Tom Amoss and Donna Barton Brothers providing the coverage. TVG will cover the entire 12-race card, including five stakes races. First post is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.
The field for the feature race, the Grade II, $200,000 WinStar Kentucky Cup, is taking shape. Among those likely to run is 7-year-old Strike Impact, third in the Grade II Firecracker Handicap on the turf at Churchill Downs two races back and second, beaten a neck, in the West Virginia Speakers Cup Handicap in his last start. Two-time Grade I winner General Quarters, who won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in 2009, is also expected to be in the field
Other probable entries are Baryshnikov, Demarcation, Future Prospect, Shediak and Workin for Hops.
The last word
It's a new season but the same old problem for the Green Bay Packers: Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins was ruled out for the season on Monday because of a neck injury, a continuation of the wave of injuries the team dealt with on its run to the Super Bowl. Collins was carried off the field on a stretcher after sustaining a frightening neck injury in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's victory at Carolina on Sunday. Collins spent the night in the hospital and returned to Green Bay on Monday to meet with the team's medical staff. Safety Charlie Peprah, who will be expected to take Collins' place, said:
"It's definitely a punch to the gut. We're still trying to wrap our heads around it, because it went from thinking he was going to be OK to out for the season. It's something that everybody's just trying to get used to the news right now, and go from there."