Returning for its 16th season, 12 highly skilled golfers will travel to Ireland to make their dreams of playing next to the best golfers in the world a reality! The new season of Big Break premieres on September 20th at 9 pm ET on the Golf Channel. The season was filmed at the historic K Club in Kildare, Ireland, home of the 2006 Ryder Cup.
The Big Break offers the twelve contestants (6 men and 6 women), a wide range of challenges that are intended to test the mental fortitude and physical skills of the golfers, with one golfer eliminated each week. Each contestant is vying for the top prize, where the ultimate male or female winner is awarded two tournament exemptions from the four exemptions up for grabs. The exemptions are for events on the LPGA Tour, European Tour and Ladies European Tour.
The show was filmed in May at the K Club which features two Arnold Palmer designed championship golf courses – the Palmer Ryder Cup Course and the Palmer Smurfit Course.
The competitors on Big Break Ireland are:
Mallory Blackwelder (24, Versailles, Ky.) – One of the most experienced competitors on Big Break Ireland, Blackwelder is the daughter of 13-year LPGA Tour veteran Myra Blackwelder and professional caddie Worth Blackwelder. After traveling worldwide with the Ladies European Tour in 2010, Mallory is competing full time on the LPGA Futures Tour in 2011.
Annie Brophy (24, Spokane, Wash.) – A rookie on the LPGA Futures Tour and a proud alum from the University of Notre Dame, Brophy is looking to capture the “Luck of the Irish” on Big Break Ireland.
Joe Campbell (23, Cheltenham, England / Charlotte, N.C.) – The youngest competitor on the series, Campbell also is the longest hitter off the tee. He currently works at Carolina Golf Club, saving up money for the mini-tour events in 2011.
Kelly Jacques (25, Thornton, Colo.) – Jacques made her return to competitive golf in 2011 after taking time away from the game following graduation at the University of Oklahoma. Currently competing on a limited schedule on the LPGA Futures Tour, Jacques has a new, fresh outlook on the game and on life.
Bennett Maki (26, Orlando, Fla.) – Unlike a lot of his playing competitors on Big Break Ireland, Maki is starting his professional golf career. A model and actor, Maki has appeared on numerous commercials that have aired on Golf Channel, which has served as a supplemental source of income to achieving his lifelong dream of competing on the PGA TOUR.
Matt Melrose (27, Mulanje Malawi / Scottsdale, Ariz.) – A veteran of several mini tours and the Gateway Tour, Melrose is competing on Big Break Ireland without ever having watched a previous series.
Mark Murphy (34, Waterville, Ireland / New Orleans, La.) – An Ireland native, Murphy grew up four hours south of The K Club in Waterville. Currently residing in New Orleans, La., Murphy’s dream of playing on the PGA TOUR is still alive, although the results as a professional golfer have not come to fruition like he hoped. A former caddie for Rocco Mediate, Murphy is competing in the 2011 Irish Open this week on a sponsor’s exemption.
Nina Rodriguez (27, San Jose, Calif.) – Currently competing on the LPGA Futures Tour, Rodriguez is a late bloomer to the game, deciding to focus solely on golf at age 19.
Nicole Smith (24, Riverside, Calif.) – Currently living out of her car, Smith is competing full-time on the LPGA Futures Tour. The proud alum from the University of Tennessee is looking to follow in the footsteps of Big Break Sandals Resorts competitor Ryann O’Toole, her close friend and travel companion on Tour.
Julien Trudeau (30, Montreal, Quebec / Phoenix, Ariz.) – The lone Canadian on Big Break Ireland, Trudeau is looking to continue the recent success Canadians have had on Big Break. A veteran of several mini tours in the U.S. and Canada, Trudeau was ready to walk away from the game when a friend suggested he audition for Big Break and give professional golf one more try.
Andy Walker (36, Phoenix, Ariz.) – A veteran of several professional golf tours, Walker has yet to have that breakthrough year in professional golf. In addition to competing on the professional circuits, he also is a professional golf instructor, assistant golf coach at South Mountain Community College and is a founding partner of the Joyner-Walker Foundation with former NFL great Seth Joyner.
Whitney Wright (26, Greenville, S.C.) – Girlfriend of Big Break Indian Wells competitor Robbie Biershenk, Wright is competing on the LPGA Futures Tour and supplements her income by competing in charitable competitions on the golf course.