The Post-Journal

Miller Enjoyed Break Time at Big Break

The Big Break VII: Reunion on The Golf Channel will continue for another month, but the reality show was over rather quickly for Silver Creek's Cindy Miller.

Miller was invited back for the reunion program, taped over two weeks in November at the Ginn Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla., after she had been on Big Break III: Ladies Only in 2005 and was eliminated on the next to last show. But on The Big Break VII, Miller was out on the first show when it took her 14 shots to put the ball on a green from a bunker 82 yards away during an elimination challenge.

When asked if she sees that long bunker shot in her sleep (or nightmare), Miller said, "I do and I don't. Because of all the 14 shots, there were only three that were terrible. The rest of them I would have had the opportunity to get it up and down, I guess."

Then she noted, "An 82-yard bunker shot is the hardest shot in golf."

Miler mentioned she heard from another player eliminated from The Big Break VII player, Bri Vega, who saw Brittany Linicome fail to convert the same shot at the LPGA Ginn Open.

"Brittany won the tournament, so I guess it doesn't make me all bad," Miller said.

But looking back on her two Big Break experiences, Miller said, "The first show, when I needed to hit a shot I did. This one, I didn't hit it bad, I just didn't hit it good."

And there as a good reason, though she won't use it as an excuse, for Miller's quick exit from The Big Break VII.

"For the whole show I just wasn't sharp," she said

At the same time she was to start taping The Big Break VII in Orlando, Miller was also scheduled to be the key-note speaker at the Executive Women's Golf Association national leadership conference in West Palm Beach.

"Two of the biggest things in my life were happening together," Miller said.

She flew into Orlando, started the Big Break show, drove to West Palm Beach and did a full day of speeches and then drove back to Orlando to continue taping The Big Break VII the next morning at 5.

"So I was kind of out of sync when it started," Miller said. "The first day (of competition) I made two swings and I'm in last place."

And she was eliminated on one of the most difficult challenges ever seen on any of The Big Breaks - that infamous 82-yard bunker shot.

"I can tell you if we played 18 holes, I would not have been the first one to leave, but that's not the game," Miller said.

And Miller pointed out that when a player is eliminated, "You can't leave. You have to stay."

So the "eliminated" were put in a different house and they were not allowed to check their e-mail or use their cell phones while the two week taping continued. So what did Miller do?

"I played 27 holes of golf every day and worked on my game," she said. "I think it was a blessing. The dome (where she teaches lessons in Williamsville) was down and the weather was bad (in Western New York), so OK, fine. Twist my arm and I'll play golf every day."

And so did the other players as they were eliminated. And Miller noted it led to some interesting matches, which involved more women contestants that had been eliminated than men.

"The girls kicked the boys' butts," she said about the matches.

And when she wasn't playing 27 holes, Miller was also writing a blog about The Big Break VII episodes.

Everything was quite different about The Big Break VII, that involved 16 contestants, eight men and eight women as compared to The Big Break III, that had 10 women.

"I was very surprised at the format, but I'm glad I did it," Miller said.

And in most of the competitions, the contestants played as teams.

"I didn't care for the format at all, but that's none of my business," Miller said. "I would prefer to win or lose myself. I think the picking of the teams should have been a blind draw. It was stacked from the beginning without a doubt. It's not how good you play, it's are you lucky."

And when she did lose, "I heard a little voice say, 'You're supposed to lose gracefully' and I said, 'OK, I can do that.'"

And Miller did and then sat back and watched - when she wasn't playing 27 holes of golf every day. And what she and other viewers watched was a lot of sniping and feuding among the contestants. There was some of that in The Big Break III, but it appeared it was encouraged in The Big Break VII.

"It's reality TV and a lot of people like drama," Miller said. "And they just don't want to watch golf. If they want to watch golf, watch it on the weekends I guess."

The height of the tensions involved newly married Pam Garrity, who was on The Big Break III as Pam Crikelair. She withdrew after there were tensions with the three other women she was living with and competing against.

When asked if Garrity's withdrawl surprised her, Miller said, "I was and I wasn't. She really wasn't totally committed to being there. She didn't really want to be there."

After getting married on Oct. 7, Garrity was playing very little golf and was taking real estate courses. Despite her lack of playing, she had survived all the way to the seventh episode when she withdrew.

Looking back on her two Big Break experiences, Miller said, "I had a great time at both of them, but No. 3 was more fun, maybe because it was newer. And I still talk to all the girls. We bonded."

Though she didn't win the big prize of an exemption into LPGA events on either program, plus $70,000 in cash prizes and an SUV for winning The Big Break VII, Miller, who already played on the LPGA Tour as Cindy Kessler, still thinks she came up a winner from appearing on both Big Breaks.

I'm still trying to get better and I'm glad I did it," she said.

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