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Golf Channel ‘Big Break’ co-host Stephanie Sparks dies at age 50

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Chris Condon

Stephanie Sparks, an All-American college golf and former U.S. Curtis Cup player who went on to co-host several Golf Channel programs, in the reality show “Big Break,” died April 13 at 50. Living most recently in Orlando, Spark’s cause of death is unknown.

Sparks was born in Wheeling, W.Va., and had an accomplished amateur golf career that included winning the 1992 North and South Women’s Amateur and the 1993 Women’s Western Amateur and Women’s Eastern Amateur. She played college golf a Duke University, earning first-team All-American honors as a freshman and second-team as as sophomore. She later competed on the 1994 American Curtis Cup team that tied Great Britain & Ireland at The Honors Course outside Chattanooga, Tenn.

Injuries hampered the end of her college days in Durham and lingered as she turned pro. She played one season on the LPGA Tour before ending her career. But golf remained a large part of her life. In 2004, she played the part of Alexa Stirling in the movie “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.” And she became a co-host of Golf Channel’s popular reality show “Big Break,” in which contestants competed for the right to play in pro events. She also appeared on the series “Golf With Style" and “Playing Lessons with the Pros.”

“She had been a professional golfer herself,” Tom Abbott, Sparks co-host for seven years on the “Big Break,” told Golfweek, “so she knew what it was like for the contestants, and she wanted them to succeed. She kind of rode their emotions in a way when we were doing the show.

“She knew how tough it was.”