Big Break Ireland: Julien's Journal
Contestant Julien Trudeau provides commentary after watching each week's episode as they air on Golf Channel
Each week, Julien Trudeau, a contestant on Golf Channel's Big Break Ireland, weighs in with a behind-the-scenes look at that week's episode. For more on the show, which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET visit www.GolfChannel.com/BigBreak.
Episode 10: "The 19th Hole" (Aired November 22, 2011)
It goes something like this. You fly to Dublin. You meet 11 strangers. You always do what the network tells you. You do interview after interview. You get no sleep. You sit around in cold weather waiting to hit golf shots. You love and cherish every minute of it. You make it to the final match. You get no sleep. You play a winner-take-all match for $80,000 in cash and prizes.
When I arrived in Ireland, it had been 7 months since I had played my last "real" golf tournament, the Nationwide event in Chattanooga, TN. Two days before flying to Dublin however, I played the 18-hole U.S. Open local qualifying tournament in Henderson, NV. My friend and teacher Bill Forrest came with me to caddie for me and to try to get me ready for Big Break. He was one of the very few people whom I told of my participation on the show before heading to Ireland. I struggled so badly that day in Nevada, shooting 78. My ball-striking was terrible and my attitude was even worse. Bill and I had plenty to talk about on the 5-hour drive home to Phoenix that afternoon. There wasn't much I could do to fix my swing in two days. The only thing I could change was my attitude. I think I did a decent job of that for the most part.
I have no regrets from the final match. You can insert any cliche you want here: I gave it 110%, I left it all out there, I tried my best. Sure, I'd like to have that second shot from the 19th hole over again. But the hole I really want back is number 10. What a debacle that was! After a perfect drive, I hit another terrible three-wood just like the one I had hit way right in Episode 8 against Mark on the Smurfit course. I followed that up by "yipping" my 80-yard shot in the front bunker. I had no chance to get that bunker shot up and down -- it was straight downwind and downhill to the hole from there. Mark's win on that hole gave him a boost and took my momentum away.
Overall the thing is, I just wasn't swinging well -- I hit 5 greens in regulation in 19 holes. Thank goodness for my short game. I got up and down 6 out of 7 times on the front nine to take a 2 up lead at the turn. Mark turned up the heat with incredible birdies on those back-nine par threes. I hung around and showed a lot of grit. I will forever remember that putt I made for par on 17 to keep the match going.
The final match took almost 7 hours. A twosome playing a $2 Nassau would normally play the Ryder Cup course in 3 hours. This was no regular Nassau! For instance, it typically took around 5-10 minutes to start playing the next hole. Cameras had to move, people had to move, the "eliminateds" had to get to Safe City behind the next green, and so forth. There was no rhythm to the match whatsoever. We had to slow our pace when we walked so the cameramen could follow us with that heavy equipment. I have so much respect for everyone on the crew, the conditions they had to deal with and the professionalism and hard work they displayed.
I have watched and enjoyed the final episode twice now. It has been a pleasure to watch every show and see how Golf Channel edits everything. There is so much content, no wonder it takes 4 months to get the first episode out. Golf Channel is first-class all the way. They treated us like rockstars. I think it's safe to say that every Big Break Ireland competitor would like to be on Big Break ten more times! It's also safe to say that the hardest thing about being on Big Break is keeping everything a secret after filming is over. It's been hard, especially when one or several of my friends said "I know you won, Jules."
If you've watched any of the extra footage on GolfChannel.com (and you should!), you know that I kept a journal while I was in Ireland. So, I think it's only fitting that I end this commentary with an excerpt from my journal.
"Saturday, May 28th, the day after our 19-hole match. I always knew Mark would be good on the 19th hole, if you know what I mean?
Y'all saw that debacle out there yesterday, I can't hit it any worse. I haven't played a real golf tournament since the Nationwide Tour event in Chattanooga in October, what did I expect? Thank god I can chip and putt, otherwise it might have been a 12-hole match. I was still here to win, and just barely fell short. Mark made some huge putts on those back-nine par 3's. I gift-wrapped the 10th hole by butchering it badly and I gave Mark a half-point by hitting a basic golf shot in the water on the 11th. Other than that, I fought really hard and am proud of my performance under tremendous pressure. I know that if I put in some time, I can get back to a big Tour. My passion for golf has definitely been renewed, especially after seeing how much fire and heart all the girls bring to the golf course. I was very impressed by everyone, the level of play, and just the overall experience was amazing and life-changing.
OK, I'm so done talking about golf, I'm sorry... I'm on a train heading for Kilkenny, County Kerry, in the Southwest of Ireland. It's nice to be single and unemployed. I'm sitting across from Murph, Big Break Ireland winner, what a great dude! I changed my flight to next week after Murph invited me to come to his parents' place. How many times will I get an opportunity to be in Ireland and explore and play links golf?! Thank you Golf Channel! I can't wait to see this golf course he speaks of in his hometown, Waterville Golf Links. Should be pure."
I'd like to thank the editors at Golf World/Golf Digest for giving me the opportunity to give you readers a little insight on Golf Channel's Big Break. It's been an amazing ride, even though I was aware of the results the whole time! I'll be back, folks, I'm not done yet! I'd like to wish Mallory, Whitney, and Nicole good luck next week at the final stage of qualifying for the LPGA Tour. Go girls!
Episode 9: "Hoot and Scoot" (Aired November 15, 2011)
It seemed like just another Sunday afternoon in Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 5th, 2011. Not for Mallory Blackwelder. She was on her 36th hole of sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open at the Broadmoor, which would also be hosting the Open a month later. She was facing a long bunker shot and somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that she needed to get it up and down to earn her qualifying spot. There was something else in the back of her mind, a memory from 10 days before. It was a memory of that great bunker shot we witnessed her hit in Episode 9 of Big Break Ireland.
Do you think I'd be telling you this story if she didn't get that bunker shot up and down and qualified for the Open?! Of course not! Sure enough, she hit a great bunker shot to tap-in range and qualified for the U.S. Open by one stroke. She called me after signing her scorecard that day and thanked me for having picked that particular spot to play from in the immunity challenge at the K Club. She claimed that having hit such a great bunker shot on Big Break gave her the confidence to get it up and down again and give herself a chance to qualify for the Open. "You're the one who hit the shot, Mal," I told her. Nonetheless, I accepted the credit she gave me and was thrilled that she would be competing in the most prestigious event in women's golf.
Now, back to competition day. Breakfast at Liffey's was very quiet that morning. There just wasn't much to talk about. Even Mark, usually the life of the party, was more reserved. As is always the case on Big Break, we competitors had no idea what challenges we would be facing on this day, the penultimate day of the show. Being this far into it, we were all ready for whatever the producers brought upon us.