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Volume 21 No. 1
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‘Big Break’ takes swing at invitational format

Golf Channel’s reality franchise “Big Break” will go in a new direction later this year with its first invitational tournament. Former participants of “Big Break,” including the PGA Tour’s Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, will make up the field.

“This is going to be more about performance than personalities,” said Tom Knapp, Golf Channel’s senior vice president of programming. “When you think about ‘Big Break’ proper, that’s a reality show. The invitational is going to be a tournament. You’re going to see some very good players competing for a significant prize.”

The Big Break Invitational will be played Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, the week after the Ryder Cup, at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., outside of Atlanta. Golf Channel said it has entered into a multiyear agreement with Reynolds Plantation and plans to return annually with the invitational.

A purse of $300,000 will be at stake for a field of 20 male and 20 female golfers, with the winner taking home $100,000. The full field won’t be announced until August, though Gainey and Gerina Piller, an LPGA golfer who was a member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2013, have been confirmed by Golf Channel.

Some of the participants will be past champions of “Big Break,” but mostly players will be chosen based on how competitive they are, in order to create the best field. Knapp added that eight of the 40 returning players are competing on the PGA Tour, Tour or LPGA Tour.

“What Golf Channel viewers have told us is that tournament golf is what they prefer,” Knapp said. “The competition is what they want to see, especially the more notable the players are. This field is notable. These players are golfers that the audience will know.”

As usual, “Big Break” will introduce creative scoring methods to decide the champion of the invitational, but these formats will be more standard than what viewers typically see on the show.

The first two rounds will feature modified Stableford scoring, which awards points based on the golfer’s score. Stableford scoring is used on the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open. The top 10 men and top 10 women will advance into the third round, which will be a match-play competition. The 10 match-play winners — five men and five women — will move into the fourth and final round for 18 holes of stroke play.

“I’ve always thought that ‘Big Break’ would come out with a tournament of champions or something like that,” Gainey said. “But I’m looking forward to the invitational concept. … The competition will be tough.”

Golf Channel will formally announce the invitational this week and market it “just like we would any other tournament,” Knapp said. The invitational will have a “Big Break” look but will carry its own unique logo.