Week 9 saw a skills challenge with the stakes as high as ever, and the winner gaining an automatic spot in the final episode.
With seven contestants gone, the pressure was on the final three and each knew that any mistake could cost them dearly.
Imagine being as nervous as you can possibly be and trying to thread a needle. Thats what were trying to do out here, said Bart Lower, the youngest of the group. And if you dont thread it, you lose.
The skills challenge had each player hit a total of five drives and then attempt three putts from different distances. The five drives were awarded a point total depending on the length of each tee shot. The players then had to hole out putts from 15, 40 and 65 feet. The player who had the best-combined finish would receive the elimination exemption.
After Lower and Kip Henley III completed their five tee shots, it was left in the hands of Don Donatello to win the driving portion of the challenge outright.
I said, If you want this bad enough, youll hit it low and youll run it all the way down there, said Donatello on his final chance. I knew when it left my club that it was going to be awfully close.
Close it was, but it was good enough to give Donatello the edge over Lower to win the first round of the skills challenge. The emotional toll, however, was starting to weigh heavily on Donatello.
I was very nervous. I couldnt get the darn ball on the tee, he said. My hand was shaking so much I couldnt get it on the tee. Ive never had that problem ever.
With the advantage of being in the lead, Donatello putted first from 15 feet and thought he had holed the putt only to see it lip out, resulting in a two putt.
I hit that putt perfect and I went to step because I thought I made it, said a frustrated Donatello. That might be the last time I ever step toward the hole like I made it.
Lower ultimately won the putting round of the skills challenge to set up a playoff against Donatello to see who would win immunity for the day and earn a spot in the finals.
After draining the playoff-winning putt and realizing he was in the finals, Donatello could no longer contain his emotions as the tears began to flow.
A lot of relief there. A lot of pressure builds up that people might not realize, said co-host Rick Smith upon seeing Donatellos passionate reaction.
Lower and Henley then made their way to the Top-Flite mulligan challenge, where the infamous wall from the first season of the Big Break made its return. Lower easily defeated both the wall and Henley to earn the mulligan for use in the elimination challenge that soon followed.
Using the Modified Stableford scoring system, the two men played three holes with the one accruing the most points advancing to meet Donatello in the final episode.
The elimination was three holes. Not easy holes, recalled Lower. Definitely not holes you want to face when your stomach is in your throat.
Both made pars on the first hole and headed to the second, which was a 172-yard par-3. Henley hit his shot on the green and Lower pushed his to the right but pin high. His resulting chip raced by the hole some 12 feet and he quickly and wisely chose to take his mulligan.
At that point I knew how to hit the shot and that I could possibly make this shot, said Lower about his second attempt.
He didnt hole out with his mulligan, but it was good enough to keep pace with Henley as they went to the final hole all tied.
After each player hit formidable tee shots, Lowers approach finished about 30 feet away from the hole, setting the stage for Henley. Contemplating whether to go straight at the pin or play it safe, Henley listened to his demons and let fly his 9-iron.
Asking it to be right, Henley could breath easier as his approach nestled up to within 3 feet of the cup. He watched as Lower missed his birdie effort, and then ran home his short putt to knock out Lower and win a spot alongside Donatello.
Im a huge, huge believer in fate. And how I got beat that was just the way it was suppose to be, said the departing Lower. Maybe this will offer me an opportunity where Ill get a chance to really work on my game and really see how far I can take it.
This experience was once in a lifetime and its something Ill never forget.
Be sure to watch The Golf Channel Tuesday December 14th at 9:00PM (ET), as the race for the four Nationwide Tour exemptions comes down to the final two contestants on The Big Break 2.