Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TOUR NOTEBOOK; James Survives Another Playoff

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TOUR NOTEBOOK; James Survives Another Playoff

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

The Golf Channel's Big Break: Mesquite is down to a foursome, and Gerry James of Ponte Vedra Beach is still in it after surviving his third elimination contest in a row.

James, 47, a two-time world long-drive champion, made a birdie on the final hole of a playoff with Brian Kontak and Kevin Taylor on Tuesday night to tie Kontak. The high score after the four playoffs holes was sent home, and that was Taylor, by one shot.

"I eliminated the eliminator," James said Wednesday, referring to the fact that Taylor had lasted on the show for seven weeks in a row in elimination challenges.

James made his final birdie after hitting his drive on top of a large, rocky hill. He hit a 5-iron from 200 yards off the bare lie just off the green and chipped to within 2 feet to set up his birdie putt.

Also remaining on the show are the two top cumulative players on the weekly points list, Hiroshi Matsuo of Jupiter and Josh Warthen. There are three weeks remaining on the show, and the last man standing will get a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour's Mayakoba Classic in February.

James said he had the confidence at the beginning of taping last summer at the Nevada resort that he would last this long. But he said if he had known he would experience some swing flaws, he might have been surprised to be around for the final four.

"My swing had kind of deserted me the last few shows that people have seen," said James, who is contractually allowed only to comment on shows that have already aired. "The problem was that they didn't allow you to practice before or after any taping. You got 10 minutes to loosen up, and that was it."

James said the ban on practice was to keep the competition on a level playing field.

"At the time, I was surviving on heart," James said.

This week's show also had some more soap-opera drama. …

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