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How "Big Break" Champions Have Fared With Exemptions Earned on Show

What the Winners Have Done With Their Opportunities

By

Carling Coffing

Big Break Sandals Resorts winner Carling Coffing cashed in both tournaments she gained entry to via the Golf Channel series.

Courtesy of Golf Channel
The Big Break has proved to be a big boost to the Golf Channel over the years. Who could have imagined, when the first series was announced back in 2003, that the show would still be going strong, still producing good ratings? The Big Break has probably been more successful than anyone would have predicted.

And it really has proved to be a big break for some of its competitors over the course of series history. Kristy McPherson didn't do much on her series, but she wound up on the LPGA Tour shortly after. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, one of the most popular competitors in show history, has subsequently earned Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour status, and won on both.

But what about Big Break champions? Many of them, as part of their prize packages, earned exemptions in tour events for winning Big Break. Which series champions have fared best in the tournaments they got into by virtue of winning Big Break?

Below we list each Big Break series whose winner received an exemption into a tour event(s), and how each fared in those tournaments. (If a particular season is not listed below, it's because that season did not award any exemptions to the winner.)

Big Break Mexico - Taylor Collins
Collins earned an exemption into one LPGA Tour event in 2013:

  • Lorena Ochoa Invitational: 74-77-76-73--300 (+12), $7,250

Big Break Greenbrier - Mark Silvers
Silvers earned an exemption into one PGA Tour tournament in 2013:

  • Greenbrier Classic: 71-71--142 (+2), missed cut

Big Break Atlantis - Marcela Leon
Leon earned an exemption into one LPGA Tour event in 2012:

  • Kingsmill Championship: 79-70--149 (+7), missed cut

Big Break Ireland - Mark Murphy
Murphy won spots in the field at two European Tour tournaments in 2012:

  • Hassan II Trophy: 72-68-71-76--287 (-1), t52nd, € 5,550
  • Irish Open: 69-73-73-74--289 (+1), t58th, € 5,900

Big Break Dominican Republic - Blair O'Neal and Anthony Rodriguez
O'Neal was the women's MVP and Rodriguez the MVP of the men's team. Both earned exemptions into one tournament in 2011.

O'Neal's exemption:

  • LPGA Kia Classic: 81-84--165 (+19), missed cut
Rodriguez's exemption:
  • PGA Tour Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: 72-74--146 (+4), missed cut
Big Break Sandals Resorts - Carling Coffing
Coffing gained entry into one LPGA tournament and one LET event in 2010:
  • LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational: 78-75-78-72--303 (+15), 35th, $7,975 (no-cut tournament)
  • LET Omega Dubai Ladies Masters: 70-71-75-74--290 (+2), t22nd, £ 5,700
Big Break Disney Golf - Mike Perez
Perez's winnings included a spot in one PGA Tour event in 2010:
  • Children's Miracle Network Classic: 76-70--146 (+2), missed cut
Big Break Kaanapali - Kim Welch
For her victory in Hawaii, Welch claimed an exemption in one LPGA Tour event in 2009:
  • Navistar LPGA Classic: 70-77--147 (+3), missed cut
Big Break Mesquite - Brian Kontak
Kontak claimed an exemption into one PGA Tour tourney in 2008:
  • Mayakoba Classic: 75-71--146 (+6), missed cut
Big Break VII: Reunion - Tommy Gainey
Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey earned a spot in the field at one Nationwide Tour event in 2007:
  • Cox Classic: 68-66-67-65--266 (-18), t8th, $17,550
Big Break VI - Bri Vega and Denny Hepler
This season of "The Big Break" included both a women's champ and a men's champ. The women's champ received exemptions into two 2007 LPGA Tour events; the men's champ into two 2007 Champions Tour tournaments.

Vega's exemptions:

  • SBS Open at Turtle Bay: 81-80--161 (+17), missed cut
  • Sybase Classic: 74-78--152 (+8), missed cut
Hepler's exemptions:
  • Turtle Bay Championship: 77-72-73--222 (+6), t72nd, $1,168 (no-cut tournament)
  • Bank of America Championship: 68-75-76--219 (+3), t59th, $2,805 (no-cut tournament)
Big Break V - Ashley Prange
Prange's prizes included entry into one LPGA Tour event in 2006:
  • LPGA Safeway Classic: 77-77--154 (+10), missed cut
Big Break IV - Paul Holtby
Holtby won spots in two events on the European Tour in 2006:
  • Algarve Open: 76-69--145 (+1), missed cut
  • Celtic Manor Wales Open: 73-69--142 (+4), missed cut
Big Break III - Danielle Amiee
Amiee received entry into two LPGA Tour events in 2005:
  • Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill: 79-77--156 (+14), missed cut
  • LPGA Corning Classic: withdrew
Big Break II - Kip Henley
Henley won entry into four Nationwide Tour tournaments in 2005:
  • Henrico County Open: 72-70-- 142 (-2), missed cut
  • LaSalle Bank Open: 74-73--147 (+5), missed cut
  • Lake Erie Charity Classic: 73-80--153 (+9), missed cut
  • Pete Dye Classic: 76-74--150 (+6), missed cut
Big Break I - Justin Peters
Peters gained entry into four tournaments on the Canadian Tour in 2004:
  • Barton Creek Classic: 75-81--156 (+12), missed cut
  • Barton Challenge: withdrew
  • Greater Sacramento Open: 76-72--148 (+6), missed cut
  • Central Valley Classic: 76-70-74-77--297 (+9), 60th
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