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Long Island Golfers Break Out on The Golf Channelís Big Break
http://www.publinksgolfer.net/articles/699/1/Long-Island-Golfers-Break-Out-on-The-Golf-Channelís-Big-Break/Page1.html
Golfing Magazine Staff
 
By Golfing Magazine Staff
Published on 01/4/2010
 
Untitled Document

Breaking Out

Three guys who honed their golf games on Long Island now look to make their mark on The Golf Channel’s The Big Break

For Long Islanders who enjoy golf, the 12th season of The Golf Channel program The Big Break provides more local intrigue than ever before. That’s because this year’s 10-week skills-challenge series,which eliminates contestants each week until one player is left and earns a spot in a 2010 PGA Tour event, features three players with deep Long Island roots. Even better, all three men have truly unique backgrounds. Here are their stories.

Andrew Giuliani
Previously, Giuliani was most famous for fidgeting on stage during his father Rudy’s second inaugural address as New York City’s mayor. But today, the 23-year-old is known for his grace under pressure on the golf course. The reigning champ of the Met Open, one of the New York area’s most prestigious pro events, Giuliani is looking to play on the PGA Tour as soon as possible.

Giuliani did not start playing golf until age 12, when dad left the Mayor’s office. The course he started at was Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, but once he began to play competitively at age 16, he spent lots of time playing the gems on Long Island. “I’d say that four of my five favorite courses in the world are on the Island: National Golf Links, Bethpage Black, Shinnecock Hills, and Friars Head. You just don’t get 72 better holes than that. And I love coming to the Island each year for the New York State Open—the Black course is awesome because it as fair as it is challenging. Honestly, I think the Island is one of the best places in the world for golf.”

Giuliani learned how to handle being in the spotlight not only from his father, with whom he played a lot of golf before starting his competitive career, but also from his mother, the television news anchor and actress Donna Hanover. “Growing up with two people who were in the public eye, I learned a lot on how you handle and conduct yourself,” he says. “You learn that you’re going to make mistakes sometimes, but you have to keep focus and move on.”

This experience helps Giuliani manage the stress that comes with playing against other top golfers. “My coach Paul Silva [of Van Cortlandt GC] focuses me on getting the ball in the hole, even on days when I don’t have my best stuff. He taught me to adapt to whatever game I have that day, and to score my best under those circumstances. I attribute my attitude to him.”

That being said, “The Big Break is certainly a different type of pressure than with everything else you do in golf,” Giuliani adds. “In regular competition, if you make a bad shot you can make up for it on the next shot or the next hole. But in these episodes, your performance is often based on just two or three shots, so every shot is pressure. I think I have an advantage because I am used to the cameras, so I feel mentally strong out there. But when I do feel pressure, I step back and ask myself why I feel pressure at this moment, and that allows me to lighten up a bit and perform at my best. Paul taught me that.”

The next step for Giuliani is to settle into Jupiter, FL for the winter and work on his short game. “I want to be one of the best wedge player I can, because that’s what you need to become one of the best players out there,” he says. And come the summer, he will try to win as many regional tournaments as possible en route to being physically and mentally prepared to go to the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School in October 2010.

 

Sean Kalin
Remember The Legend of Bagger Vance? Well, Sean Kalin’s improbable, wildly successful return to golf would make an even better movie than that.
Raised in Valley Stream for his first nine years, Kalin was a dedicated golfer during that time. “I practiced in a lot of open fields before I ever got on a golf course, and I used to sneak onto an abandoned golf course in North Hills [The Links GC] and hit balls for hours,” he says. “Then I starting playing at the Douglaston and Bethpage courses; my stepfather would take me.”

He got burned out on golf at age 9, though, and moved in with his birth father to take a break. But his mother arranged to have him kidnapped from his elementary school and returned to her. Kalin spent the next several years living with her and his stepfather in Florida, harboring much emotional turmoil.

He forgot about golf for more than 20 years, until he was persuaded by coworkers at Continental Home Loans in Melville to join them for a round at Tallgrass GC in August 2008. Incredibly, he shot 78. Intrigued by his performance, Kalin then played Bethpage Black and Stonebridge CC. His scores: 76 and 73. With zero practice. Seriously.

“The way I was taught to play golf as a child emphasized the pre-shot routine more than anything else—it had almost nothing to do with swinging the club,” he says. “I always concentrated on setting up properly, and once I do that, I truly have no thoughts in my head as I swing. To me, the golf swing is just making the same old move. Once I had a club in my hand again, it was like riding a bike. It came right back to me.”

In just a little more than a year, the 32-year-old has made up for all that lost time. Kalin has already won two of the tournaments he’s entered—including a 2009 U.S. Open local qualifier in South Florida. And then there’s his appearance on The Big Break. “On the show, it was constant pressure shot to shot, but that experience helps me now in tournament play,” he says. “It was exactly the experience I needed, to see if I can make a good shot when I absolutely have to.”

In 2010, Kalin will aim to play in at least 20 events before taking his shot at Q school. “I never expected for this to happen so quickly—I figured it would take a few years of practice to reach this level,” he says. But Giuliani, who’s become friends with Kalin, isn’t so surprised. “Sean is one of the toughest guys you will ever meet. To go through what he did and come out the other side the way he has is just amazing. I feel lucky to have met him.”

 

Andreas Huber
This 29-year-old former Wall Streeter—and son of actress Susan Lucci—still lives much of the year in his hometown of Garden City, playing out of both Garden City GC and Westhampton CC. His other favorite courses to play on Long Island are National GL and Shinnecock Hills GC.

As a junior golfer under the tutelage of Garden City GC’s Gil McNally, Huber competed in many AJGA events and was a quarterfinalist in the U.S Junior Amateur Championship. His golf career at Georgetown was a bit disappointing, so his dream of going pro took a back seat to a career in finance. But come early 2007, Huber chose to give golf one more chance, so he quit his financial job and then qualified for the Canadian tour in 2008.

Huber says the Canadian tour was a good experience in that “you definitely get better just being in that atmosphere. Basically, there is nothing to do but practice and play and be around other good players. That pushes you to be more competitive.” But Huber doesn’t miss all the driving around Canada, even though he did it with another tour player, fellow Long Islander Joey Horowitz.

In 2009, Huber wanted to play on the European tour, but missed the cut at the European Q school. So his goal for 2010 is to play in several Nationwide Tour Monday qualifiers, and see how well he does. But if things don’t work out, “I have other things going on outside of golf,” he says. “So no matter what happens, something will fall into place for me.”